On the way up we called in at Foxholes just in case any Stone Curlew were in-it's about the right time. A large flock of Linnets, a couple of Curlew and lots of Skylarks were all we had from the lay by end. Walking back to the car a car pulled up and someone asked what we were looking for. I didn't recognise the voice. Leaving we approached the car which had stopped and i realised it was Royston Dave and his mate so we pulled over. They were scanning the more open area without finding Stone Curlew, but a very nice Woodlark was singing just overhead.
Dave had missed most of the good birds so far this year by spending a lot of time in Spain (nice) and was hoping to get some of the basic stuff out of the way and head to the Norfolk coast.
We next stopped off at Santon Downham. Met a guy I vaguely knew from Norwich on the bridge and had a chat. Large numbers of birders had gone west along the river hoping to get the Lesser Spotted Woodpeckers, but like us had seen them just east of the bridge last year.
Colin and I decided to go west, and after spending time photographing the bridge Colin went on. I stayed to do some more landscapes when a Willow tit appeared above my head in a tree. Fumbling with the wrong camera lens and bins, I could not get on to it until it had crossed the river where it was chased off by Blue Tits.
I caught Colin up and we carried on for almost a mile. Lots of Nuthatch singing and calling, several Treecreepers and various tits and finches were encountered. News was that Lesser Spots had been heard calling a couple of times, but not seen. I spent a while with the small crowd while Colin went back to the bridge and on two occasions I heard the distinctive drumming and was shown the most recent nest hole, but the birds were not showing. What did concern me was one of the drumming sequences came from a long way off south of the river, and i suspect that maybe the birds might be a lot harder to get this year.
Got back to the bridge, where a Kingfisher was showing well and a pair of Willow Tits flew over. Just north of the railway i got my first butterfly-a Brimstone.
Arrived at Lyndford around noon, and saw several more Brimstones. Bad news was no Hawfinch at all for several days.
We spent time photographing various Ladybirds sunning on ivy near the lake and moved up into the arboretum. A frustrating invisible singing Crossbill in very tall conifers kept us busy for some time, but the Siskins and Goldcrests were a bit easier.
A lot of work has been done since our last visit-the overgrown holly and scrub near the wall by the road had been cleaned up (bad) but a feeding station had been set up along a closed off ride and was proving very attractive to finches and Marsh Tits. Apparently the hawfinch had been coming down too. We had been told that just before we got there a Firecrest had been showing.
I mentioned this to the approaching birder-the owner of Wildsounds and he said there were singing birds in the conifers behind us. Went over and recognised Julian Bhalerao trying to photograph them.
One showed reasonably well but was very flighty and was very hard to get in the camera viewfinder. I got one bad image of the bird singing, but the best views were when it was very high up in the trees.
We wandered around the trees hearing more crests but the hoped for early blossom and flowers were nowhere to be seen. I remember seeing a number of snakebark maples some years back, but they appear to have had gone and the eucalypts pines and firs were not very interesting bark-wise from a photogenic point of view, so we slowly meandered back to the car and called it a day.