Monday, 4 April 2016

In Hope

Sunday April 3

Our first workman-free day for two weeks, time to bird. Despite a late night after A's 70th birthday party at Cley Centre, we were driving away at 6.45. How long would I stay awake after three hours sleep and only four the previous night ?
Despite the dull and very low cloud conditions, we'd hit a record 50+ species by Abbey Farm. It's usually about 30. Sculthorpe Mill racked up the numbers, most of them 'padders', apart from  2 Grey Wagtails, a singing Blackcap first for me - Pam had one in the garden yesterday - and a surprise, first for the site, Little Egret.
The hedge on the Abbey Farm approach road had a flighty flock of at least 20 Brambling.  Good.
Breakfasting in Abbey Hide on a welcome porridge pot, we enjoyed both Little Owls in the oak tree and a Red Kite over the back fields. So many Black-headed Gulls to-day, Tufted  the only ducks. 
After the usual futile drive around the Wolferton Triangle, we drove to Snettisham without checking the tide timetable. We'd probably have gone anyway, despite the tide being at its lowest - on a low tide day ! We still managed to rack up all the expected waders, apart from Golden Plover.  It was just hard work. Me scoping and then,  getting Pam onto the birds when she was only using her binoculars. The pits were very unpopulated apart from Avocets and Gulls. I tried hard to find a tern or along the edge, a Wheatear.
By now, the sun was out. Hunstanton was chokka, as were the clifftop parking places. We did manage to find the only space where we parked and  ate our bacon roll bought in Tesco - which is an obligatory loo stop for Pam. We needed some shopping to-day too, most useful stop. The expected Fulmars cruised the cliffs.
Little Grebes, Cetti's, a lovely flock of Pochard, Brent Geese and Marsh Harriers at Holme. Singing Chiffchaff near the entrance gate and a single Swallow flew through the car park.
The resident horses came to the Natterjack pool for a drink, the only photos I took all day.

Brancaster Staithe was chokka too, it's a deservedly popular place in the spring/summer, especially on a sunny holiday weekend. With nothing to add, a pair of Red-breasted Mergansers flew upstream as we were leaving, Black-tailed Godwits near the busy prawn baguette van. The ice-cream van was doing a roaring trade too (yes, we had a cone each). The new sailing clubhouse looks almost finished at last, looking good too.
Still trying to see a Cormorant (!!) Pam  inched her way along the hordes in Wells harbour, past the wall crowded with fish and chip eating families and along the East Hills approach and, dead end, road. It's lovely there and not crowded. A splendid Great Crested Grebe was a welcome reward.
We sat  in the Beach car park at Cley for twenty minutes, scanning the Eye Field from time to time, whilst I was fighting to keep my eyes open. A lone Swallow flitted through and I started the Telegraph GK crossword to stay awake. One last scan,  I said as Pam mooted leaving, as she was also very weary and had done the driving. Eureka. Two Wheatears showed briefly but satisfyingly. One of my favourite birds, always a joy to see. 
Totting up at home, the day's sightings came to 87 species. I saw a Spoonbill and Pam saw a Barn Owl - and neither of us saw a Cormorant. Amazing.

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