Sue arrived soon after 8.30, we were off earlier than usual - she has nearly an hour's drive to get here. News of two Smew at Bittering, Creaking gate Lake yesterday, seemed a good first destination, as the weather has not been conducive for early migrants.
We've been to Bittering, near Dereham once before but, to different lakes. Arriving in the area, not even the locals we asked knew of Creaking Gate Lake! All lanes led to Gressenhall......until we drove down a very narrow lane and came to a wood where we could see a glimpse of water in the distance. Beyond the surrounding barbed wire, we binned a Danger Deep Water sign. Creaking Gate Lake. Eureka.
Via an initial wrong farm track and then over (Pam under) barbed wire near a gate, we squelched down to view the lake through the trees. Mute Swans, Coot, Moorhen, Great Crested Grebe, Tufted Duck, Gadwall and Shoveller on the water, Long-tailed Tits in the trees around us. No Smew. Interesting place though.
North to Kings Lynn via Swaffham Waitrose for hot chocolate and the loo, we couldn't resist the turnoff to Snettisham. All the usual suspects in the wader, duck and geese family, apart from Golden Plover, they must have departed north. A surprise was the number of Avocets present. A large flock on an island in the first reserve pit and another larger number on the mud, well over a hundred. As we ate lunch, we could actually hear the tide rushing in, hundreds of Knot, Godwit and Dunlin rising in disturbed clouds to settle elsewhere.
On to check Hunstanton Cliffs where a Wheatear had been reported at the weekend. It would have been amazing to find one to-day, people and dogs everywhere.
Having checked out Thornham, I was able to take some photographs at a water-full Brancaster Staithe. The ever present Grey Plover, Bar-tailed Godwit changing into summer plumage and the very handsome summer Herring Gulls.
|Moulting Black-tailed Godwit|
|Grey Plover - still in winter plumage|
Holkham Marsh is very difficult to view from the A 148 (or is it 149?) . We remembered that there was a well hidden pull-off before a road dip and a bend where the farmers turn in to feed the game birds. Nothing behind us meant a slow approach so that we didn't miss it - it's well hidden. No-one here to-day either. Good decision. A Buzzard perched in the nearby hedge, a Barn Owl hunting along the near marsh, three Spoonbills on the pools.
It had been such a dull, dreary day weather-wise, with fog, some rain and low grey cloud cover. By now the cloud had lifted and we'd seen enough good birds to lighten the spirits. Sue is always so positive too which adds to the pleasure of being out and about.