Tuesday, 4 October 2016

Autumn Car Birding

Monday October 3

Still nursing sore knees, even less walking than usual. A later sunrise is good for rest but not for a bird list, it was 7.22 before we left the house. 
I love September in its fading summer glory. Plenty of sunshine and  burgeoning fruits with the anticipation of migration and sea-watching storms. October is either a faded gentlewoman of soft yellows, warm oranges and morning mists, or, a raging  maelstrom of whirling leaves, roaring winds and sudden rainstorms. Both bring their own flavours. One of nostalgia for the year passing, the other a preparation for the winter months ahead.
This was a lovely September like morning, mists rising from the fields around Sculthorpe a pointer towards October. A mist enshrouded Sculthorpe Mill pond, with its overhanging trees framing the Swan family swimming in sunshine at the far end. Pam took a photograph which captures the scene.

A lone Grey Wagtail fed on the lichen encrusted rocks still in the shade - when my eyes adjusted to the two light extremes.

The industry of spiders is made obvious by the over-night  misting of grass, dead plant remains and the webs themselves. 

One example near Abbey Farm showed the muted full rainbow hues glistening, when viewed from the appropriate angle. I don't think that my camera does it full justice.

One male Stonechat along Valley farm Lane was a surprise, a few Tree Sparrows remained in the hedgerow - and I picked some Walnuts ! Well, they hang over the lane, country rule.

We were an hour and a half past high tide at Snettisham. Time to witness the departure of the early birders and the last of the enormous wader flocks, leaving the mud islands at the southern end for the shoreline of the fast receding tide. Several hundreds of thousands Knot smoke-clouding drifts on their purposeful food hunt. All the waders we expect to find here. Huge flocks of Black-tailed Godwits and Oystercatchers, even more Grey and Golden Plovers than last month, wintering flocks of Wigeon on the pits and...... two Black-necked Grebes in front of Shore Hide. 
The several hundred brash and noisy Greylag are not as welcome.
A group of fresh young Meadow Pipits feeding amongst the vegetation outside the Snettisham Yacht Clubhouse were a delight.

My sandwich lunch, eaten at Hunstanton cliff top was overseen by a patient, cold-grey-eyed winter Herring Gull. It was eventually rewarded with a small crust.

 Holme Reserve was inordinately busy, the full car parks indicating that there were 'good' birds present. We eschewed the opportunity to hunt for mobile and elusive (one of the worst birding phrases),  Yellow-browed Warblers and, the equally challenging Richards Pipit in the southern fields. Seven Swallows fed along the Broadwater. We later saw a single House Martin at Cley.
We meant to stop at Holkham to look for the Great White Egret but, Pam shot past, stopping in a very rough lay-by beyond. What turned out to be a very pale-headed Buzzard perched beyond one of the marsh gates. I initially thought it was an Osprey.

Our first Autumn Brent Geese didn't appear until Stiffkey Marsh, a few small groups grazing peacefully along the marsh.
I love chickens, the pretty ones anyway. These are two of the motley collection along the track to Stiffkey Marsh.

No sign of the Shag at Wells. Again, plenty of people to buy and eat fish and chips along the front. We see mainly the white-hair brigade on Mondays, avoiding the weekend crowds -  forming one of our own.

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