Tuesday, 2 February 2016

What About Henry?

Monday February 1

Eight hours of good daylight and 78 species seen from the car. No, our legs are not atrophied. We walked at Sculthorpe Mill where we added nothing in a howling wind - all the small birds were taking shelter somewhere - and we walked to Abbey Hide at Flitcham. The walk at Hunstanton Tesco was for practical purposes.
Back to birds. It was a slow start, having to work hard to see anything. I saw Tree Sparrow on a bird table off Valley Farm Lane, it did not return for Pam. Driving along the back lane to Abbey Farm, an enormous flock of Finches kept rising from stubble fields, scattering madly along the hedges, flying helter skelter away and repeating their actions, We'd heard that the flock held Brambling and Tree Sparrows as well as the ubiquitous Chaffinches.  We tried very hard but, definite identity was not possible in the 200+ birds present. Still a dozen or so birders present, wandering the lanes. Room for one car at the hide, we sat in the hide for about 20 minutes before another mob arrived and we gave them room. Our first 2016 Gadwall was the reward.
Back to the lane and the decision made to go back to the polytunnel area, where there is room to park and, to look into a stubble field for the finches. They were still disappearing into the high stubble and I was concentrating on finding them when Pam said  'Raptor in the green field'. Said green field is at the back of the stubble field and the ringtail was sporadically showing above the hedge. We both had good Binoc views of the juvenile Pallid Harrier which has been wintering in the area. Jammy. 

On to Snettisham via  a fruitless couple of circuits of the Wolferton Triangle. No Golden Pheasant for us.
A low tide was coming in at the Wash, all the waders we expect, including Knot, apart from Sanderling, scattered densely across the mud. At least two thousand Golden Plover, massed in a line, were a spectacular sight when they took flight. Very little on the pits to-day, a pair of Goldeneye the highlight along with the delightful Little Grebes. It wasn't until we were almost upon it and it took off that we noticed a Peregrine with prey sat beside the track. That would have been a good photo opportunity.
Lunch with Fulmar and Rock Doves on Hunstanton Cliffs, admiring the aerodynamic shapes the gulls morphed into to cope with the strongly gusting wind along the clifftop. The sea was empty.
So was Thornham. No cars, no people, few birds. Until we saw a Little Egret hunched in the lee of a bank.
A disappointment at Wells, the quay was fenced off, we couldn't enter and look for the Shag. I tried from the road where we had to keep moving. The roadworks taking place only allowed one way traffic and the parked cars were another hazard.
We were both lucky to see the upper part of a Barn Owl sticking up from the top of a roadside hedge.
Gun Hill parking layby allowed me to scope the marshes, finding a few White-fronted Geese amongst the Pink-feet, Greylag and Brent.
We didn't spend long at Choseley as the parking spaces down the hill were occupied by birders looking for a Rough-legged Buzzard. On to Brancaster Staithe where we had a snack with the Ringed Plover, Bar-tailed Godwits, 

Dunlin and the mussel men hard at work. At last, the Red-necked Grebe drifted fast down the channel on the outgoing tide. We spent about 20 minutes in its presence, as it drifted away then fought the tide to come back again. It really wasn't far away, I should have got better photographs, especially as the sun came out. Much too grainy (1.4 x still on) and an odd colour.

Re-posted photographs, maybe a better colour......

Carl C turned up too, he looks much better since his operation.
Stiffkey looked lovely in the fading evening sun. We added Merlin and a ringtail Hen Harrier here. 
Still - barely - enough light at Cley to scope Pat's Pool from the Centre car park, adding Shoveller, Avocet and Lesser Black-backed Gull before Bernard (Warden !!) drove his Land Rover around the scrapes, parking in front of Daukes, sending all the birds to North Pool.
Somewhere we added Marsh Harrier and Buzzard to the day's list making it eight species of raptor. We saw 5 Kestrels - which I haven't mentioned.
Lovely, despite the edges of storm Henry and its devastating wind which has caused much disruption in Scotland and northern England.
How did we miss Common Gull?

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