Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Quantity rather than Quality

 With the big influx of Scandinavian drift migrants along the east coast, Colin and I decided to spend Bank Holiday Monday in Norfolk-and because we had not been there since the beginning of the year.
 The mist on the way up soon cleared and we eventually had a fine sunny day, not exactly ideal for finding new migrants but it was pleasant. The drive in from Heacham to Ringstead did  not produce a great deal though a brief stop was interesting as I watched three Yellow Wagtails being harassed in flight by a Swallow, i guess they were all chasing the same flying insects.
 The usual stop at Chosely had a few birders. I missed a Wheatear, found a Corn Bunting, saw a small flock of House Sparrows-no Trees unfortunately. The ploughed field was full of Wagtails-mainly family parties of Pied, a few Yellows and a single Grey. I tried to turn one or two of the paler wing barred Pied into Citrines but it did not work. The other guys went off for the Booted Warbler at Burnham but we decided to try and bump the year lists up a bit and stay in the area.
 Titchwell was reached around 0930 and was still fairly quiet. The car park did not have any migrants and with high tide at 1030 we headed to the beach. On the way we picked up two Whinchats on Thornham grazing marsh, one Little Stint, around 25 Curlew Sands, 10 Spoonbills and huge numbers of Godwits, Knot and Plovers. Unfortunately the sea seemed to have gone a bit quiet by the time we arrived. I picked up a passing juvenile Black tern, lots of Sandwich Terns (my first of the year!) two Arctic Skuas and one Bonxie. A few sea duck and Gannets were also seen.
 The trudge up to Thornham Point  was quiet until we hit some Wheatear on the tide line. At least five were in the area. The wader roost on Thornham Channel held lots of Sanderling, Ringed Plovers and the usual assortment of gulls and so on. Had hoped for a Whimbrel but could not find any. Joined a couple of other birders and started to search the south west side of the buckthorn and soon picked up a Redstart-we saw maybe four or five eventually, and then one or two Pied Flycatchers appeared. Warblers unfortunately were scarce and apart from Willow and Chiffchaff I never saw anything else though some did locate a Locustella, presumed to be Grasshopper. I was unfortunately in a bit of a mess at the time. Basically a couple of guys at the eastern end had seen a Wryneck fly in, but by the time we had joined them it had gone. I figured on going round to the north side in case we were missing any warblers and decided to climb up onto the top. I found a Chiff, a female Redstart and as that flew off it put the Wryneck up. As I was up there, everyone thought it would be a good idea for me to walk (not the best verb to use in this case) through the dense Buckthorn and nettles while they waited outside for it to appear. Unfortunately it did not, and all I got was badly scratched and stung.
 With the lack of birds Colin and i departed, picking up more Wheatear and Whinchats on the way. Butterflies were abundant on the landward side of the dunes-Common Blues and Wall Browns in particular.
 The tide had dropped a bit, but we did not find any more interesting birds. However I had added ten new species to my poor year list so it wasn't a bad morning. A Black tern had been seen on the fresh marsh, but had gone by the time we got there so we went round the Fen Trail. Common and Ruddy Darters were expected, as were Migrant hawkers and Blue Tailed and Common Blue Damsels. No sign of Small Red Eyes which I was hoping for, but a disturbance in the reeds produced a very confiding Water Vole. It was initially feeding under the viewing platform only a few feet from me, but then swam out for a moment, though the reeds impeded my view.

 After lunch we went to Brancaster Golf Course for an hour. More Wall Browns were seen-I have never seen so many in one years, plus Common Blues, Whites and Tortoiseshells. One Whinchat  was seen briefly as we searched for tee number 14-though our target had actually moved to 12. Earlier in the day two Wrynecks were found here and one remained in the afternoon and it showed reasonably well one of the scrubby areas alongside the green, flying from bush to bush as it defended a feeding territory.
 On the way back to the car, two odd dusky butterflies flew around me-it took a moment to work out that they were Graylings. I've seen them occasionally here but had almost given up seeing them this year.

We had intended to visit Dersingham on the way home, for the dragonflies but the road was cordoned off as were the car parking bays-due to a Scarecrow competition in the village. We could only park in the village, paying for the privilege and walk a considerable distance back to the reserve entrance which we did not want to do so, disappointed we decided to carry on for home.

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