Sunday, 25 January 2015

In search of winter birds, Day 2 - Norfolk 2015

After the now traditional hearty breakfast we planned our day and prepared to head off. There were a few bits and pieces on the feeders in the garden but nothing of much note, Great Spotted Woodpecker and Coal Tit were probably the most notable. 

We started the day at Wolferton in search of the elusive Golden Pheasant. We have tried for this species in previous years but without success, but this year Paul's local knowledge gave us hope. We headed for the northern road that forms the Wolverton triangle and slowly  searched the area. Our first circuit was without success, but on our second circuit we flushed a stunning male bird, who was feeding right on the edge on a clearing. This was our second new species for our annual Norfolk trip and one we were very pleased to get.

Our next destination was Hunstanton and the coach park opposite Tesco's. Two Waxwing had been visiting trees in the car park all week, but not today. We searched the area for a while but failed miserably. Our next stop was the cliffs at Hunstanton; this would give us a view of the sea in search of ducks and also views of Northern Fulmars. The sea was very quiet and other than a couple of flocks of Sanderling passing by there was nothing of note. We did get some cracking views of Fulmars though as the hung in the stiff breeze.

Fulmar - Hunstanton

Holme Beach
We are fortunate in that when we stay in Norfolk we stay in the home of a birder and are able too enjoy his choice of artwork. One of my favourite artists at the moment is Darren Woodhead ( and it was a very pleasant surprise to see one of his pictures hanging on the wall in the cottage. The painting is of a flock of Fieldfares, and a lone Waxwing, feeding in a clump of Sea Buckthorn

Darren Woodhead Painting of Fieldfares on Sea Buckthorn 

Our next stop of the day was Holme Beach and here the image on the wall came to life as we were greeted with a flock of Fieldfare, minus the Waxwing, feeding in a clump of Sea Buckthorn. As we enjoyed the birds we could just imagine Darren sat with us painting the scene.

Fieldfare - Holme Beach
Fieldfare - Holme Beach

Our main reason for going to Holme was to look for the flock of Snow Buntings that were known to be present. After spending a few minutes with the Fieldfares we headed on in search of our quarry. We first stubbled across a few Knot that were feeding in the nearby pools, they were extremely approachable, the individual below was the tamest.

Knot - Holme Beach

There were good numbers of Skylark feeding in the sand dunes and as we homed in on the Snow Buntings we stubbled across some pretty of approachable individuals.

Skylark - Holme Beach

There were about 20 Snow Buntings present but they were constantly moving back and forth along the beach. We eventually pinned them down and were able to get some cracking views before they took flight. 

Snow Buntings - Holme Beach
Snow Bunting - Holme Beach

Thornham Point has been a regular site for Twite and Rock Pipit over the last few years, except last year that is. After Holme we headed there and were quickly on to a few Rock Pipits. A handful of wader species were present, mostly Redshank but also Grey Plover, Ringed Plover and Curlew

Redshank - Thornham
Curlew - Thornham

We eventually picked up the Twite flock, about 30 birds were feeding on vegetation on the salt-marsh. Typically they come to the gutter of the nearby building to drink, but that was not to be the case today.

Our next stop was the RSPB's Titchwell reserve, this is usually a great place for a variety of wader and duck species but also a good place to look out to sea for divers and sea duck. We arrived at Titchwell and headed straight out along the footpath to the beach. The scrape on the north had the best to offer with several Ruff, Snipe, Dunlin, Redshank and Black-tailed Godwits present. At the back of the scrape there were several pipits, including two Water Pipits, four Rock Pipits and a couple of Meadow Pipits, a Bearded Tit joined them for a while and gave good but distant views.

We continued along the footpath adding a few more species to our trip total and then picked up an Avocet and Black-tailed Godwit, both of which had colour rings. As regular readers will know I am constantly on the lookout for colour-ringed birds, so will endeavour to find out where these were from.

Colour-ringed Black-tailed Godwit - Titchwell

A quick check on the sea was disappointing, with only Common Scoter and Goldeneye recorded. It has been suggested that the storms of last years have changed the dynamics of the seabed and therefore there are no sea duck present, hopefully things will be back to normal next year.

A149 at Burham Overy Staithe
We intended to finish the day Lady Anne's Drive, but on the way we headed past Burham Overy Staithe on the A149. As we headed towards the lay-by there were a group of birders appearing to be watching something, so we pulled in to have a look. As it turns out they weren't watching anything but we stayed for a while. It was a good choice as we soon picked up a Short-eared Owl, several Marsh Harriers, three Common Buzzards, including a very pale individual similar to others I had seen on the continent, a Barn Owl and a Rough-legged Buzzard.

Lady Anne's Drive
We eventually arrived at Lady Anne's Drive and had another couple of Barn Owls and four Woodcocks, which was in fact our target bird.

We ended the day on 85 species bringing our total for the trip to 101.

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