The Portland Naturalist

The Portland Naturalist

Sunday, 20 October 2013

Norfolk-ing Way - Part 2 (Day 3)

Day 3 (15/10)

This morning, I didn't have anything particularly dynamic in mind for my early excursion, so settled on a long-ish walk from Old Hunstanton north through the dunes to Holme and back, mostly following the edge of the golf course. 

There were no particular species highlights, but it was great to experience good 'viz-mig' with lots of Chaffinch heading south, with smaller numbers of Brambling, Siskin, and Redpoll.  Many grounded thrushes were feeding on Sea Buckthorn berries. 

At the Holme end, I found a Grey Wagtail on the edge of a puddle, and I came across a garden with a load of thrushes and Brambling feeding on fallen pears.

The first scheduled stop of the day was to that staple of Norfolk birding, Titchwell.  No visit to the area is complete without a good look at this place. 
Good views were had of Bearded Tit on the walk down to the beach, as a small group indulged in one of their dispersal flights over our head.  The only bird of real note in front of the hides was a single Little Stint, though others saw Curlew Sandpiper as well.

Once at the beach, the search was on for the famous Snow Bunting.  I walked a fair way along to the right before giving up, and attempting the left direction instead.  Once at Thornham Point, there was nothing for it but to go back, so I did so along the top of the dunes.  As I did so, I flushed two Lapland Bunting, which flew off calling, before coming back down a distance away on the saltmarsh out of view.  I got a glimpse of the orange wing-patch on one, plus recognised the call.  On that same walk back I also found a Brambling feeding in the low weeds on the seaward side, much of the behaviour of the absent Snow Buntings!

In the dunes, I found a large number of the scarce Dune Waxcap fungus.

I was also able to spot a very distant Great Skua out to sea, and on the marsh was Avocet, Egyptian Goose, and Ruff.  On the walk back to the centre, I came across one of the latter feeding right by the path!

This shot shows you what sort of view I had through the scope!

Before the afternoon walk, I decided to rush over to the fields just south of Wells Woods, where the Siberian Stonechat had been reported again.  If it's anything like a normal Stonechat, it shouldn't be elusive!  Indeed, once there, the fantastic Siberian Stonechat was immediately in view, and fairly close-by too.
I even managed to jam a shot of the diagnostic orangey rump!
I was very lucky, as it then flew off to a distant fence, where it had apparently been most of the time.  My only lifer of the trip.
I was also fortunate to meet a very understanding traffic warden once back at my un-ticketed van (I paid for an hour yesterday and only stayed half-hour, as was the same today, so my conscience is clean!).
The afternoon walk was along the sea wall from Burnham Overy Staithe.  We only got about halfway towards the quality dunes, but this was far enough to see our second Great Grey Shrike of the trip, as one hunted around a reedy pool, and if anything showed better than the Holme bird.

Rather than walk back the same way like everyone else, I planned to take the inland path back towards the A149, then back along the road.  This turned out to be a good decision, as I had a close encounter with a covey of 4 Grey Partridge on the other side of a hedge.
On the way back to Old Hunstanton, I popped into Holme in the hope of Owls.  The weather wasn't the best, and none were forthcoming.  That's despite my best efforts, even climbing on the top of my van for a better panorama!
The last part to come shortly.

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