Friday, 3 April 2015

The Second

Thursday April 2

I was not avoiding All Fools Day, it was our monthly coffee morning. With one member in London and another unwell, two of us opting out would have left very few present, not good for the hostess. We did see a male Sparrowhawk zoom through their back paddocks and over the lake from the splendid sun room bay window where we sat.
It had rained heavily overnight, the sky was still leaden when we set off. As we drove west, the clouds lifted, the sun came out - and stayed out for the rest of a rather cold day.
Sculthorpe Mill's Grey Wagtails were a treat. Both of them on the bridge wall over the river and then prancing weightlessly about, foraging for insects on a grass patch at the edge of the water. Delightful. I love their aerial skips after insects with much tail bobbing threatening to unbalance the performance yet serving to enhance their balletic progress.
Abbey Farm was very birdless. I wonder if yesterday's closure for maintenance had an effect. We had seen a Red Kite fly overhead as we left Valley Farm Lane after adding Tree Sparrow on the roof of their nesting house.
Masses of birds shadowed the distant tideline at Snettisham, too distant to identify. We did add Dunlin, Grey Plover and Ringed Plover, the only ones we saw all day. A very large flock of Brent Geese were the first of many, no Pinkfeet at all. Still a large number of Avocets too. To think that, in the 1960s,  we took a small group of children on a day trip from Herfordshire and then, a boat to Halvergate island, to see the first post war birds to return.
So many people, and a lot of children, Easter Holidays, around on Hunstanton Cliffs. Two paragliders were enjoying the updraft from the cliffs, a lovely spectacle but, not good for the Fulmars I was trying to photograph.

Only managed two photos of a patrolling Fulmar before the paras arrived.
Was it worth having a look at Holme? Difficult to resist. The paddocks at the entry road rewarded our list with a single Mistle Thrush and one Redwing. Broadwater car park Hide saw many more Avocets, three circling Buzzards, spiralling out of sight and the first Marsh Harrier. Our only Shovellers too, along the entrance track.
Dismay.  There was a no entry cone at the Titchwell Fishermen's car park entrance. We had to park in the 'proper' car park, extra walking! A Chiffchaff was in full song as we left the car. A cursory look only for the reported Woodcock in the usual woods - reported a few days ago. They're hard enough to see if you have a general idea of where to look.
As we passed where we usually park, I saw the reason for the cone. An apparently healthy green leaved tree had partially fallen across the reserve end of the parking area. A result of Tuesday's 70 mph winds I guess. The area doesn't belong to the RSPB, I wonder if it will be cleared.
The first long pool on the right showed us a pair of Red-crested Pochards, his red head glowing in the sunlight. Never far away from each other, they spent about five minutes appearing and disappearing at the near edge, mostly hidden by reeds. Never available for a photograph. They, and the accompanying Great Crested Grebe, then disappeared as suddenly as they'd appeared.
We walked on as far as Island Hide, and the only empty bench, to scan the Freshwater Pool. About a dozen Ruff to add to our day list, doing their stiff legged strut amongst another large flock of Brent. Full of water, the Brent and Greylag occupied the islands, Avocets, Teal and a few Gadwall the water.
On the way back I scoped the drained Marsh Pool, hoping for the Water Pipit. No luck.
Enjoying a rest and a drink at the Centre, our only Great Tit appeared on the feeders. We usually reckon adding at least 10 birds at Titchwell. A hard earned 8 to-day, Cetti's, Little Egret and Marsh Harrier to add to birds previously mentioned.
Room to pull off to view Gun Hill. Immediately, a Common Buzzard flew along the hedgerow, frightening our second Barn Owl down into the shelter of the long grass on the ground. I've seen them take evasive action like that before, when a Hen Harrier was chasing one at Stiffkey. It took refuge in the suaeda until the raptor got tired and flew away. The Buzzard perched in a tree top almost opposite the car so I scoped it at length, failing to talk it into being a Rough-legged.
Pam hates the pull in from which we can view Holkham Marsh as its dodgy reversing out onto the busy road. Only a short stop as three horse riders were appearing, enough time to see that there were no Spoonbill in view.
No Wheatear at Cley in the Eye Field.........just our second group of moulting Golden Plover, hunkered down, black aprons hardly showing.
On to Weybourne Beach pool where the drake Garganey swam into view as we were giving up hope. My favourite duck. Or is it Pintail? No sign of the reported singing Sedge Warbler.
Our Felbrigg Little Owl disappointed to-day too. Not really surprising with the number of families and dog walkers around, there's a footpath through 'his' field. I didn't fancy walking to look for the Black Redstart, we ended up with 81 species seen despite missing Grey Heron, Bar-tailed Godwit, the owl, Pinks and  Snipe. Not seeing either Greater nor Lesser Black-backed Gulls was pretty amazing too.

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