Monday, 2 January 2017

A Wet Start to 2017

Sunday January 1 2017

Was it madness? We set out at 6.50 a.m. in rain - and it continued all day. All that changed was its intensity.  The only other birders we saw all day were at Sculthorpe Mill, at what turned out to be a very late first light. 
The first bird was great, a flying Tawny Owl caught in the headlights, between White Horse Common and North Walsham. The next.......Black-headed Gulls leaving their roost somewhere near Fakenham.
Bird feeders in the gamekeeper's cottage garden along Valley Farm Lane, now visible through the bare-leafed hedgerow, produced the only Blue, Great, Coal and Marsh Tits we saw all day. A few of his 'King Harry' - Goldfinch - there too. plus Blackbirds and a lone Song Thrush in a nearby field. Wow, double figures accomplished.
Stock Dove, Grey Partridge and Chaffinch along the back Lane to Abbey farm plus one Fieldfare feeding around the Little  Owl nesting oak, which seems to have an even larger hole in the base.
Pam still insists on driving the Wolferton Triangle, only once to-day. I wouldn't be surprised to hear that the inbred, and possible cross-bred, Golden Pheasants here are extant.
A particular field on the Broad to Snettisham is usually worth a look. Very much so to-day. The usual Egyptian Geese and a flock of 20 Eurasian White-fronted Geese. There seems to be an influx of Russian birds. 
Pam took a few photos, they'd gone by the return journey when I whad planned to do so. I thought I'd learnt that lesson!

Common Buzzard on top of the tree on the left (Blob) Pam's photo.
One Golden Plover amongst the Lapwings
Amazing. We were the only birders at Snettisham RSPB on Jan 1 at high tide.  We breakfasted there when an intrepid pair of wet and very ruddy-faced people hot-footed it to the first hide. There are usually many birders and dog walkers here.
All the waders and ducks to be expected at this site, all a delight to see, feeding on the newly uncovering mud as the tide raced out.  Lovely to see rapid-legged Sanderling again. There were at least 100 Pintail, one flock of 50 + at the eastern end of the reserve. One male Goldeneye only when there are usually many nore at this time of year. The only geese were brash, honking Greylags.
I had put my waterproof on when I got out to open the gate to the reserve so my left side didn't get any wetter whilst scoping - the dashboard and door had to be wiped down frequently in the rather heavier drizzle.
Making our careful, very bumpy, holey, uneven way back through the chalet park, a male Merlin sped along the track on the driver's side before swooping right  between two chalets.
Lucky chance encounter.
Tesco in Hunstanton was closed, we lunched on pieces of ham, cheese and crisps ! 
Fulmar and Rock Doves along the clifftop, Shoveller along the Holme track, hot chocolate and the loo at the NWT reserve centre Magpie in the Buckthorn. 
Parking in the muddy area in front of the designated car park at Thornham, the first birds I saw were the Twite, feeding on the ground about 10 yards away. Reaching for my camera, they departed - as they do  - to repeat their fuel-wasting, multi direction-changing flight around the area. They eventually dropped into the marsh across the creek.
We decided not to try for the Docking goose flock to-day, visibility not good and we didn't want to get out and scope in the rain. Another day. We paid a fleeting visit to Choseley, to no avail, before dropping in to Brancaster Staithe. Our first Brent Geese at last. We saw our only Pinkfeet just before Holkham, unable to stop and scope as the road does not allow it.
Morston was worth a visit. No Greenshank in sight but, even better, a Kingfisher flew up the creek.
The day ended, as it had begun, rain and a good bird. Fantastic birds, I love them. Three Waxwings atop a waving tree in a garden in Cromer. Nowhere to park as the garden is on a junction with a host of parked cars in front of houses. Pam pulled off onto a closed shop forecourt to photograph from her window. I braved the wet (!) and got out to take some appalling record shots in dreadful conditions. 

Enough is enough. I was pleased to arrive home for some comforting warmth. The day's total was a surprising 71. 
Big misses: Pied and Grey Wagtail, Tree Sparrow, Woodpecker sp, seabirds, Linnet, Marsh Harrier, Tufted Duck.

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