Monday, 30 May 2016

Norfolk Birding

Sunday May 29

What a day to choose. Enforced by other commitments I know, including the urgency of the end of the month fast approaching. A May Bank Holiday Sunday, horse show at Holkham, all sorts of hoolies along the coast and miserable weather. We enjoyed our first day out in Norfolk since returning from Scotland - the west coast there still bathed in sunshine - despite the above.
Undeterred by the fog induced low visibilty at home, we pressed on to our first stop, Sculthorpe Mill car park. We'd seen a Grey Wagtail on the wires above Ebridge Mill lock, not seeing one here was still disappointing. Around the back of the inn to view their beautiful and superbly kept back gardens, the only activity was a pair of Mute Swans and their six grey Cygnets having breakfast from a large under-pot saucer. Three of the young were actually sat in it. Delightful, I think Pam managed a photo. Whitethroat and Blackcap sang from nearby hedges, a Moorhen chugged across the pond. 
It was so cold that I departed, Pam calling me back to see two Barn Owls quartering the marshy field behind the mill.
Pause there, Pam brought in a Marsh Tit she'd found near the front door, still warm and its eyes moved. Hopefully, it's not badly injured and will survive after a rest in a box - a brood of young may be depending on it.
More activity in the car park now, we turned the car to face away from the inn. Blue Tit probably nesting on the shed, Song and Mistle Thrush, Robin, Great Tit, Goldfinch and Chaffinch. About to leave, movement in the trees near the entrance brought us to a halt again, two Spotted Flycatchers in desperate search of food. They will not breed until there's more insects about. I managed one photo of a bird which paused for a few seconds in the open.

Baby rabbits are quite irresistible. We met this one as we turned for Flitcham. No more than 9 inches long, it filled the frame - until I foolishly made a kissing noise and, it shot off like ..... a startled rabbit.

A quick look at Abbey Farm........very fruitless on a day like this. 
Was Snettisham worth a visit?  I don't know why we discussed it, high tide at 12.10 was the clincher. The highlight was a flock of maybe a thousand non-breeding Knot, not a red front amongst them, distant clouds of insects in the sky, until put up by the rising tide and landing nearer.
Assiduous scoping added, Redshank, Ringed Plover, 1 Grey Plover, a few Bar-tailed Godwits, summer-plumaged Dunlin and Sanderling, and the inevitable army of Oystercatchers and brigades of Shelduck.
Hunstanton, despite not being Sunny Hunny, was teeming with humanity and their vehicles. After snailing our way through it was almost a relief to tackle the ever more uncomfortable track out to Holme Dunes NWT and NOA reserves. Bob had told us that Turtle Doves were back on 'his' feeders, not whilst we were looking. The drive out was birdless and silent, apart from the aerial manoeuvers of unusually silent Swifts. Pochard, Little Egret and more Avocets from the Broadwater Hide. No raptors at all so far.

On the return journey, Pam was again on the look out for orchids, difficult as the vegetation was very high. Sharp eyes found one, presumably Early Marsh Orchid, in good flower near to the track so that we could nip out for a photo. Another had no open flowers.

Little Tern at Brancaster Staithe was a Norfolk tick - as were Sandwich Terns at Cley over the Eye Field. A small group of Golden Plover over the latter were the last birds I saw. I slept most of the way home after very little sleep last night.
If I'd remembered my pager (too little zzzz) we might well have seen the Red-breasted Flycatcher at Titchwell. We saw one Kestrel, one Buzzard and one Red Kite eventually, the day's total only 84 species, average for May.


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