Tuesday, 4 October 2016

Phil Goes Birding

A bit of a novelty this weekend, Colin and I went to Norfolk to do a spot of birding. Makes a change from working in the garden.
Its been a bit interesting the past week, with a lot of very good American birds turning up on the western side of the country, and Ireland, but at the same time eastern birds are arriving all along the east coast and the northern isles. We decided to go to Norfolk on Sunday, based on the weather forecast of a low in the north sea producing northerly winds and the possibility birds coming down from Scandinavia and further east. Titchwell had a Pec Sand, which seemed like a good place to start and there were two Richards Pipits at Holme for later on.
We called in as usual at Chosely Barns for a quick look, but unfortunately there weren't many birds at all, and the same seemed to be the case in the car park at Titchwell. It was a bit chilly and there was quite a strong northerly wind blowing. Getting onto the path a quick scan of the fields didn't produce anything at all, but panning round to Thornham Point I noticed Gannets flying over the point. Seemed like the best bet would be to hit the beach and sea watch.
Plenty of others had had the same idea, and a quick chat suggested there were some good birds out there. Unfortunately I was just in time to see a bonxie go overhead and away from the camera. I settled down and started to get my eye in. More Great Skuas were obvious, with birds pretty much present all the time, some were reasonably close in, and over the course of the next hour or so I must have seen a good 15-20 but with birds milling around it was hard to be certain. A few Kittiwakes were seen, as well as a couple of Sandwich and Arctic Terns, though most of the latter were distant. I had just missed some Shearwaters but luckily two Sootys were eventually seen and a rather nice Manx zipped past the wind farm some way out. A few other skuas were also seen, there were certainly a number of Arctics out there, but someone called out a distant adult Long Tailed which most of us managed to get onto-one of three seen that morning. Auks were rather hard to see, being a long way out and moving very rapidly in between the waves, but there were a lot of them. Razorbills were pretty obvious at times and there were certainly a few identifiable Guillemots. Elsewhere on the coast a few Puffins were seen, and it was shame we never saw any Sabines Gulls or Leaches Petrels either. A few divers and grebes were seen, but apart from a two of Red Throated Divers and a Great Crested Grebe most were unidentified.
While all this was happening, reasonable numbers of Sanderling, Turnstones, Oystercatchers and Godwits were flying around the surf and beach, Black Headed and Common Gulls were milling around and a few flocks of duck were coming in.
Eventually around 1030 the wind started to ease off and it was clear that activity was subsiding so we made our way back to Parrinder Hide, with a nice female Stonechat eluding my camera. The water levels had dropped since the tide had turned, with the usual selection of waders. Grey Plovers and Curlew were on the brackish marsh, and there were good numbers of Golden Plover, Dunlin, Ruff, Avocets and Godwits on the fresh marsh. At least one Little Stint was present, along with a couple of Ringed Plovers but we never found the Pec Sand though it was reported.
A stroll round the Fen Trail turned out to be rather productive as it was warm and sheltered. Migrant Hawkers and Common Darters were everywhere, and there were still a few Ruddy Darters flying. We met up with someone trying to find the recently reported Willow Emeralds, and after a few minutes studying the sallows I picked up a nice female which perched reasonably close and gave very good views in my scope.

News from elsewhere in Norfolk was rather limited (apart from the early morning sea watch reports) and there didn't seem to be anything at Holme so we went to Burnham Deepdale where a Yellow Browed Warbler had been seen in the church yard. Unfortunately the news was later updated to no sign but a Pied Flycatcher had dropped in. By the time we got there it seemed that both birds had gone, but with a lot of inaccessible woodland between the church and the marsh, and the nearby gardens it wouldn't surprise me that we were just unlucky with the timing.
After spending a bit of time searching we called it a day , but before we left we  popped into the One Stop Nature Shop that Richard Campey had set up and spent a bit of time playing with the bins and digital microscopes-more toys to buy as finances permit.

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