Sunday, 19 January 2014

In Search of Winter Birds, Day 2 - Norfolk 2014

After a very hearty breakfast we headed out for a full days birding. As usual we had our target species to aim for, but the day was subject to change as and when we picked up additional news.

Choseley Drying Barns
Choseley Drying barns was our first stop, since this was just down the road from our accommodation at Great Bircham, and was usually a reliable site for corn and other buntings. On route to the barns we picked up a distant flock of pink-footed geese, numbering several thousand birds, red-legged and grey partridges. At the barns there were very few birds, a small flock of house sparrows, a chaffinch and a flock of golden plovers in the field, but sadly no buntings! With nothing much to see we headed off to our next stop, which was Blakeney Harbour. On the way we picked out a few species including a flock of Eurasian white-fronted geese, greylag geese and curlew.

Eurasian White-fronted Geese and Graylag Goose

Blakeney Harbour
There had been recent records from Blakeney Harbour of black-throated and great northern divers, long-tailed ducks and slavonian grebe, so this was to be out next stop. We were not entirely sure where we were going, so we headed for Blakeney village and walked out from there. The devastation caused by the recent storm surge and floods was evident everywhere, sea defences had been breached in several places and debris was strewn across the landscape, including in the tops of the trees.

Heading out from the village it was evident that we were not going to get the views of the harbour that we wanted, nonetheless we did mange to see a few new species including a variety of song birds and waders.

Cley (Glaven Valley)
We next headed towards the part of the Glaven valley, by the Three Swallows pub, where a glossy ibis had been frequenting. As we turned the corner and small gathering of birders highlighted where the bird was, and as we drove past to park we all saw it. Unfortunately a quick view was all we got, because as we got out of our cars and got out our optics, the bird took flight, fortunately I did manage to get a couple of shots before it headed off.

Glossy Ibis - In the Glaven Valley, Cley

Next to Kelling, and the site of a wintering Richard’s Pipit. The bird had been frequenting an area known as Kelling Hard, but after the recent floods the whole area was now covered in debris. We worked the area hard but did not manage to find the pipit, in fact the highlight of our visit was three stonechats.

The groynes at Sheringham are know as a reliable place to see purple sandpiper’s, and so this was our next stop. The town was quite busy as was the beach, and being low tide there were people and dogs, running everywhere. Despite the disturbance we did see several turnstones on the groynes, but unfortunately no purps! There was a bit of movement off shore, with a few red-throated divers and guillemots passing by, the lone gannet was the highlight for us since that was a new addition to the list.

Our next stop was Edgehill, firstly to try and see the parrot crossbills, although we had seen them already, we were keen to see these birds as they were showing very well. Secondly, we were keen to catch up with the glaucous gull that has been regularly seen at the landfill site. As it happened  we didn’t see either, but did add a few new species to the trip list, marsh tit, gold crest and red kite. We had been told of a red kite roost at Hunworth, and were aiming to head that way; the birds we saw were all heading towards Hunworth, so presumably birds heading for the roost.

We headed for the centre of the village at Hunworth, and as we pulled in immediately picked four red kites circling over a small pine plantation behind the village. The birds were hanging in the wind and circling over the wood, a couple drifted off but soon returned, and in the end there were nine birds hanging around, before going into roost, one by one.

Red Kite - Hunworth

Five Red Kites at Roost near Hunworth

By the end of the day we had recorded 81 species, bringing our grand total for our trip so far to 100, not bad for two days birding in Norfolk and Suffolk.

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