Yesterday's wintry showers of sleet and hail did not sparkle the landscape here. The fallen leaves became wetter and their drifts larger, swirled into hidden places by the fierce wind gusts. To-day started off sunny. Students of Norfolk's vast skies would have enjoyed the kaleidoscope of blue sky, white cumulus and thickly grey, snow and rain full clouds, which marked our day out.
Not expecting much in the way of quantity nor quality - all our birding is done from the car due to my lack of mobility - we had a lovely day. A flock of Curlew dotting the stubble along the back lane to Abbey Farm. At Abbey, a pair of Bullfinches lighting up the bushes around the dried pond and a Red Kite surveying the far field before swooping down and startling the Starlings into flight. It looked like it was having fun.
Starring role to-day was at least five thousand Starlings on the pig fields seen from the Flitcham/Sandringham road. Five hundred Large Whites, Saddlebacks and patched pigs took no notice at all of their very noisy neighbours. (Did I just liken Man City to pigs there ? ) I'd love to see this mob go to roost - if it was a single one. The geometry of their murmuration would be magnificent.
As it is, the sight of so many on the ground amongst the feeding pigs is unsurpassed, by me anyway. Those animals at the feeding stations had rows of ignored Starlings on their backs.
I only had my 300 mm lens so, the depth of field during an overcast and dark weather segment is pretty appalling. The photos only show a very small area of the fields.
Tide at Snettisham was on its way back in, with about four hours to go. So many Grey Plovers, a few Redshank, Dunlin, Turnstone and Ringed Plover feeding avidly on the mud. At least 30 Pintail could be scoped but not the sure identity of the hordes of birds that deckled the far shore. Many were Knot .... what else though?
No sign of the Great White Egret we saw on our last visit. A few Goldeneye and a winter influx of Wigeon on the reserve pits. Am I pleased to see 40+ Canada Geese gliding gracefully along? The sight yes, they're handsome geese, not their presence though. They've begun to colonise Mull, .Arthur Brown calls them White-tailed Eagle meals. He also calls Meadow Pipits the plankton of the bird world.
Thornham's creeks were fast filling with the inrushing tide. After seeing the flock of Twite from the car park, we quickly drove on to Brancaster Staithe for a late picnic lunch. No Long-tailed Duck to-day, a few Black-tailed Godwits, the odd Bar-tailed, more Grey Plover. The highlight was a lone Greenshank in the dim of approaching twilight.
So dark now at 2.30, Pam hurtled - as much as the road will allow - to Stiffkey Marsh car park. Just enough light to see a female Marsh Harrier and a ring-tailed Hen Harrier go to roost, dropping into the suaeda along the shoreline.
Hoping for an owl, we took the coast road home. No luck. 70 species, not bad.