Previously "Diary of a Birding Medic"

Previously "Rugby Birder"

Saturday, 3 October 2009

North Norfolk 29th Sept to 3rd Oct 2009

Chaffinch - Sculthorpe Moor

Snow Bunting - Cley

Snow Bunting - Cley

Snow Bunting - Cley

Snipe - Cley

Grey Lag Geese - Walsey Hills

Pink Footed Geese - Holkham

Egyptian Geese - Redwell Marsh

Black Tailed Godwit - Redwell Marsh

Black Headed Gull - Titchwell

Herring Gull - Titchwell

Snow Bunting - Cley

Disaster Shot 1 - Firecrest - Holkham

Disaster Shot 2 - Firecrest - Holkham

Disaster Shot 3 - Firecrest - Holkham

A short break in North Norfolk, should be good for some migrants, I thought as I towed the caravan to Little Snoring (Crossways) campsite. How wrong could I be! It was very, very quiet! I am sure it was an omen not seeing any Red Kites as I drove towards Peterborough! My luck culminated in the Firecrest disaster shots above....................suicidal is an understatement!!!

More pics on my website - see link opposite.

Tuesday 29th September

Once I had set the caravan up, it was up to Sculthorpe Moor Nature Reserve near Fakenham. I had forgotten that Tuesday was work party day and some disturbance was evident - very few birds! The new Scrape hide has  opened since my last visit but only yielded a distant Kingfisher, Marsh Harrier and the reeds held a Reed Warbler. A number of Marsh Tit's frequented the feeding station with commoner tits and finches. I made the decision to head to Flitcham Abbey Bird Hide, always a good bet for Little Owl and a good hour or two can be spent here. The area was very dry and the ponds yielded many Moorhen but little else! Two stoats were taking advantage of the dry ponds. The resident Little Owl's were not visible in the tree roots but could be heard calling. Best of the rest were four Common Buzzard devouring a hare on the adjoining fields.

Not as good a start as I had hoped - would it get better?

Wednesday 30th September

At day break, I headed for Cley Marshes. Being a traditionalist, I always park at the Visitor Centre, then walk the East Bank to the North Scrape and Arnolds Marsh. A large number of Bearded Tit's could be heard "pinging" and fleeting glimpses but no photo opportunities! Arnolds Marsh held Black and Bar Tailed Godwits, Greenshank, two Curlew Sandpiper and Spotted Redshank together with most of the expected species. A walk on the sea wall above Arnolds Marsh provided an opportunity to photograph some of the twenty plus Snow Bunting. The return route produced two Stonechat's but again only pinging from the Bearded Tit's. Four Hobby's hunted over Walsey Hills, the NOA reserve itself yielding a Coal Tit! The other hides at Cley provided numbers of commoner waders with only one Avocet of note and several Golden Plover's. A snack was had at the Cley NWT Visitor Centre followed by a trip to Salthouse Beach. Again this area was very dry with several Wheatear noted. I decided that sea watching might be more productive and was not, on this occasion, disappointed. Three Great Skua's were soon located, a lone Guillemot was on the water, a flyby Red Throated Diver several Common Scoter and three Arctic Terns made the visit worthwhile.

Thursday 1st October

A trip up the coast road to Holme Dunes but stopping off at NOA Redwell Marsh to observe several Snipe, Egyptian Geese, Black Tailed Godwit's and many skeins of Pink Footed Geese. Met Jed & Sophie (NOA wardens) and joined them for some seawatching later. A drive along the rough approach road to the NWT and NOA reserves yielded very little, even less was in the dunes and paddocks, and the wader scrapes were dry with very few waders! Sea watching here was good. The beach had large numbers of Sanderling, Oystercatcher, Curlew, Black and Bar Tailed Godwit's, Turnstone, Knot, Grey Plover and Ringed Plover. The sea allowed good views of Great and Lesser Black Backed Gull's, Great Skua, Arctic Tern, Manx Shearwater, Pomarine Skua, Kittiwake, and a few skeins of Brent Geese. The area close to the observatory held a single Cettis Warbler.

It was still quite early, and as little else was to be seen at Holme, I decided to visit the Zoo (Titchwell!). Obviously the sea wall work is reducing bird numbers, with the water levels drained to allow machinery access. A female Red Crested Pochard was present together with a very elusive Jack Snipe, viewing of which was further hampered by the suns glare. Bearded Tit were again elusive. Waders were as expected. A number of Pintail were confined to the reduced water areas.

A quick visit to Choseley Barns produced Golden Plover and Grey Partridge but little else.

Friday 2nd October

Today, I headed for Holkham Pines, arriving at 0700 in the hope of avoiding the car park attendant. No! he is getting earlier and relieved me of £3.50! Large numbers of Pink Footed Geese with some Brent and Grey Lag were an awesome sight (and sound!). The walk to the George Washington Hide was uneventful. However, it was evident that at the hide, Tit flocks were abundant, one of which contained two Firecrest. I was taken by surprise, my camera was not ready and the results are evident above! Although they frequented the area for a further hour, a number of birders had arrived and it was not possible to get any better views. I also dipped on the Yellow Browed Warbler seen by the birders lower down the boardwalk! Two flyover Crossbill were the only other birds of note.

The rest of the day was spent at Stiffkey Marshes and Fen. I decided this was an area that was underwatched and may provide me with a "mega" and a fitting end to my break. I parked at the the Greenway and walked to Warham Greens. Just how many Little Egret or Redshank can you look at before going mad?! There was nothing else! Back to the car park and a snack before walking to Stiffkey Fen. Yet more of the same. I was sure that I would be a candidate for the asylum before the day ended. However, after about two miles, I came across a real gem in the form of Stiffkey Fen. This large lake was full of Teal, Lapwing, Black Tailed Godwit's, Ruff, Greenshank, Shelduck, Wigeon, Snipe and Pintail. Looking over the saltmarshes, Blakeney Point could be seen together with the seal colony. Interestingly, a Black Swan was amongst the Geese and Mute Swans on the creak.

And so ends my short break. A little disappointing! And no Red Kites on my return journey either!

Total Sightings (112):

Red Throated Diver; Gt Cr Grebe; Dabchick; Manx Shearwater; Gannet; Cormorant; Little Egret; Grey Heron; Mute Swan; Canada Goose; Egyptian Goose; Grey Lag Goose; Pink Footed Goose; Brent Goose; Shelduck; Wigeon; Shoveler; Pintail; Teal; Pochard; Red Crested Pochard; Tufted Duck; Common Scoter; Marsh Harrier; Sparrowhawk; Common Buzzard; Hobby; Kestrel; Pheasant; Red Legged Partridge; Grey Partridge; Water Rail; Coot; Moorhen; Avocet; Oystercatcher; Ringed Plover; Sanderling; Dunlin; Curlew Sandpiper; Turnstone; Knot; Redshank; Spotted Redshank; Ruff; Bar Tailed Godwit; Black Tailed Godwit; Golden Plover; Grey Plover; Lapwing; Curlew; Snipe; Jack Snipe; Great Skua; Pomarine Skua; Arctic Skua; BH Gull; Kittiwake; Common Gull; Herring Gull; GBB Gull; LBB Gull; Arctic Tern; Guillemott; Stock Dove; Wood Pigeon; Collared Dove; Tawny Owl; Little Owl; Kingfisher; Green Woodpecker; Gt Sp Woodpecker; Skylark; Swallow; Meadow Pipit; Pied Wagtail; Dunnock; Wren; Robin; Wheatear; Blackbird; Song Thrush; Mistle Thrush; Cettis Warbler; Reed Warbler; Chiffchaff; Goldcrest; Firecrest; Bearded Tit; LT Tit; Marsh Tit; Coal Tit; Blue Tit; Great Tit; Treecreeper; Starling; Jay; Magpie; Jackdaw; Carrion Crow; Rook; House Sparrow; Chaffinch; Greenfinch; Goldfinch; Linnet; Crossbill; Reed Bunting; Snow Bunting; Black Swan.


DaveN said...

Nice report, Kevin. Some good birds seen there just like our recent trip, although a bit quiet on the migrant front....again like our trip. I wish I could get a disaster shot of a Firecrest as I've never even seen one. I'm sure the parking attendant at Holkham actually sleeps in the hut so there's no way of getting away with paying.

Kevin Groocock said...

Cheers, Dave. On my camera, the Firecrest looked good, it was only when I put them on the computer that they were really poor. Ahh well....!

Max Silverman said...

Nice report Kevin.Looking at the Norfolk thread on
BF it looks as they are having a poor time lately as well as us here.
Let's hope a Firecrest turns up at Hams Hall again this year.

Kevin Groocock said...

Cheers, Max. I live in hope!!!

col wise said...

Such a shame about the firecrest Kev, I can feel your dissapointment as it came on screen, but what a beautiful bird it is, love the snow buntings, difficult to see them in the picture never mind out in the field.Enjoyed the write up, makes me want to get back to Norfolk, next year hopefully I will know a few more birds by then

Kevin Groocock said...

Cheers, Col. The Firecrest was so close yet so fast. The images looked good on the camera screen which is why I felt so gutted when I got them home. I suppose that is why I consider myself a "birder" and not a photographer. The Snow Buntings are really quite "tame"!. If you sit and wait, they generally come to you and remain quite close. You will never tire of Norfolk!.