Sunday, November 15, 2009

Get the to a Nunnery

Wayne and I went to Thetford last Saturday for a BTO meeting, and it would have been rude of us not have stayed overnight to pay homage to the North Norfolk Coast.

And so it was that we woke up in a B&B in Morston on a cold & Sunday morning. We were accompanied for the day by Rob Chapman - York's BTO Rep and Wayne's mate from the time when he used to live and work oop North.

As is always the case in Norfolk, there were quite a few good birds around to go for. Cley Marshes was heaving with waders - Dunlin, Black-tailed Godwits, Lapwing, Redshank, Snipe and 20+ Ruff. We scanned through the hundreds of Golden Plovers looking for the American Golden Plover which had occasionally been seen in the area over the previous few days. No joy. It (or another?) was found much later in the day at Blakeney. The ducks (Mallard, Teal, Shoveler, Gadwall) were pretty much all asleep, but despite checking out every Teal we couldn't find the Green-winged that's been regularly recorded there lately. 3 Marsh Harriers, Cetti's Warbler, a few fly-over Brent and Pink-footed Geese and a flock of c. 30 Bearded Tits were the other highlights.

Walking along the East Bank we saw a few more Beardies and a Reed Bunting and at Arnold's Marsh, Wayne picked out a couple of Spotted Redshank. A 30 minute sea watch on the sea wall delivered some Red-Throated Divers, Guillemots, plenty of Red-breasted Mergansers, a female Common and a male Velvet Scoter. On the beach was a solitary Snow Bunting.

Next stop, up the high speed highway that is the A149, to Holkham. There we were greeted by the sight of hundreds of Pink-footed Geese and, somewhere amongst them, our target bird. A half mile walk west and we were on it - a Snow Goose. We then headed back east to a very busy Holkham Gap where, after a frustrating wait while we waited for them to settle after being continiously flushed by a walkers, we scoped a dozen Shorelark. Equally frustrating was a bird which flew over my head calling which I'm convinced was a Lapland Bunting - we didn't re-find it.

With the light fading quickly Titchwell was to be our last stop. There was nothing new for the day to see on the freshwater marshes apart from a Grey Plover and the humongous amount of earthwork they've done there to move the sea wall back a few hundred yards. The large Parrinder Hide is no more.

Out on the beach we added Oystercatcher, Bar-tailed Godwit, Sanderling and Knot to our day list. While on the sea there were more Red-throated Divers, Mergansers, Guillemots, a couple of G C Grebes, a distant Great Northern Diver and an even more distant, and only seen briefly,possible Slavonian Grebe. 3 Marsh Harriers coming in to roost were the final birds of the day.

A bit of a 'smash & grab' day's birding, but plenty to come home and grip the young Twitchmeister off with! But, the good news for both of us is that we'll be back in Norfolk in December where I'm sure we'll get his UK Life List moving again.