Friday, 22 January 2016

First Long Day of 2016

Thursday January 21

Pam felt fit enough for a day out in the car, although her healing scar was showing its presence. 
A meteorological map of North Norfolk to-day was interesting. A late start - 8.30 - after scraping thick ice off the car in -3C. A beautiful looking blue sky and sun morning made the drive to Fakenham careful but, scenically lovely. Even thicker frost now, the trees looking like a Disney Arctic cartoon. Then..... thick freezing fog at -3C again. Should we turn back? I ploughed on, the fog dissipated, leaving increasingly grey clouds which persisted for the rest of the day. The temperature did increase to +5C though.
A few yards past the BP garage on the right, before the Thursford road, Pam spotted a Tawny Owl in roadside bushes. I turned round as soon as possible to drive back - and it was still there. Only about 8 feet off the ground in full view. In daylight ? Best view for years.  
Sculthorpe Mill bridge was frost crystal topped, the Wensum in full spate, shame there were no water birds. 

Pam's photo of Sculthorpe Mill Wensum from the frosty bridge
We did have a good selection of thrushes though, Song, Mistle, Redwing and Fieldfare. The increasingly scarce Greenfinch too, there seems to have been a population crash. I read that there had been a disease outbreak, spread by irregularly cleansed, contaminated bird feeder. We'd seen a Grey Wagtail at Cley Sewage works yesterday so its lack wasn't missed too much.
Probably wisely, I decided not to take the 'back road' to Abbey Farm.  It's narrow with few passing places. Approaching the farm from the Flitcham end, we soon retreated having seen the many birders on the road and parked cars everywhere. The Pallid Harrier remains a big draw. I'd love to see it but.....
After another abortive Wolferton triangle drive for a view of the 'Golden' Pheasant' - its black throat indicates mixed ancestry, are there any true ones left - on to Snettisham. We were hoping for a wader top-up. The tide was so low that we couldn't see anything on the shoreline through the scope. We really must get a current tide timetable from Titchwell. We did add Sanderling to the year list and Pam, Dunlin. Lovely Goldeneye on the last pit too, much of the water on other pits was still frozen. A zipping and constantly moving, only to land in a cloak of invisibility, Linnets, kept us interested. Disappointing.

Some of the Tufted Duck on the unfrozen Pit 1
Fulmar and Common Scoter on the sea off Hunstanton Cliffs before - amazingly - giving Holme a miss as the light was really bad and only three hours of daylight remaining for the rest of the coast
We had to fight our way through at Thornham, groups of birders parked haphazardly and standing in groups across the road. Men of course.......I like their company but not all of their habits. It paid off though, 28 Twite landed in the low suaeda only ten feet from the car. Pam was able to photograph them from her window but they flew before it was my turn, an incoming Egret spooked them. Unfortunately, the poor light made Pam's pics low quality.
Brancaster Staithe for a short meal break was quite producrive on the wader front. Ringed Plover, both Black and Bar-tailed Godwits and Grey Plover. The tide was slowly coming in, I was tempted to stay on and on.... A pair of Red-breasted Mergansers fished their way past but, no sign of the Red-necked Grebe still reported as being present.
Enough light for Stiffkey Marsh? Just about. John G and his Devon friend Richard stood next to me as I scoped. They'd had great views of the Pallid only 10 yards away, perched in a tree - as well as the Wells Shag which had disappeared for us. They regretted the lack of Barn Owls, perhaps I shouldn't have told them we'd had three separate sightings !
A female Hen Harrier gave me extensive, if distant, scope views as it patrolled the shoreline from west to east and back again.
Pam loves Morston, I hate the speed bumps. I did - reluctantly - make the decision to drive down. She didn't ask me to do so... Good decision. A Greenshank was feeding in the inland pool as the creek was now full - and it was dusk.

Babcock Hide and the Grey Palarope must wait another day. It was nearly dark when we drove away from Cley Beach Road and the Eye Field Golden Plover, Brent and Pinkfeet flocks startled into flight by a low flying four engined plane. Will they never learn?

Pam's photos
73 birds for the day and the year and month total crawling up to  96. We usually manage 130+ in January. 
I will add some photos despite the light conditions,  it seems wrong not to do so. 


No comments:

Post a Comment