The Portland Naturalist

The Portland Naturalist

Sunday, 20 October 2013

Norfolk-ing Way - Part 3 (Days 4 + 5)

Day 4 (16/10)

This morning, I remembered that a few people had recommended to me the area of Warham Greens, just east of Wells, as a good area to bird.  I had visited a couple of years ago (for the departed Rufous-tailed Robin) but I was yet to explore it properly.

A woke up in a layby nearby, to the sounds of calling Grey Partridge (uniquely Norfolk!), and soon set off down Garden Drove. 

After turning left at the end, and having seen little more than the trip ticks of Green Woodpecker and Red-legged Partridge, suddenly all hell broke loose.  First, a single Snow Bunting flew over calling, then a few Redpoll came down to settle with a flock of Linnet, only for me to see that they were 3 Mealy Redpoll.  Finally, I scoped over the saltmarsh to the distant pines of East Hills.  Soaring over them was 2 ringtail Hen Harrier and a Short-eared Owl!  I watched as they interacted, and one of the Harriers went to be on show most of the time, though always distant.  What a spot!

In addition, further along the edge of the saltmarsh, 2 Kingfisher chased each other through one of the many channels.

I started inland, and happened to come across a ringing operation.  I got to a net that held a struggling Goldcrest and a Wren.

There was no-one in sight, and I set up my scope trained on a nearby hedge, as I thought I'd heard a Ring Ouzel.  Half an hour later, no Ring Ouzel, and more importantly, no-one had come to check the nets.  I was able to see the area quite a while after I left, and there still appeared to be no-one to attend to the, no doubt quite distressed, birds.  Quite naughty really.

On the walk back along the road, a fluttering moth got my attention.  It is one of the Epirrita species, and the general sparseness of markings would suggest a Pale November Moth (though strictly speaking, dissection is required to be sure).

The only scheduled walk for the day was to that other essential North Norfolk visit, Cley.
However, I have to say I think today was not my best trip there, by it's high standards.  We set off on the long walk along East Bank, the shore, then back via the Beach Road.
There were at least 3 Red-throated Diver out on the sea, an immature Mediterranean Gull went by, and some Bearded Tit showed briefly.  There was supposed to be a Black Redstart along the beach, but there was no sign.
The highlight for me though was spotting a Blackbird coming in-off, low over the sea a mile away.  Just as it got in-shore, an immature Great Black-backed Gull suddenly appeared behind it, and plucked it out of the sky!  The perils of migration.  We did however witness several Redwing making the same journey more successfully, and we found some very tired birds feeding just behind the beach in addition.
After this, with rather a lack of conviction, I headed off in the rain to West Runton the other side of Sheringham, in the hope of the Dusky Warbler showing.  There was never any real hope in those conditions! 
Incidentally, I think all in all we were pretty lucky with the weather this week to be honest, as the forecasts always seemed to be worse than it turned out!
Finally, I finished off the day back at Titchwell, where I'd yesterday overlooked the opportunity to check out the new bit of the reserve, at Patsy's Reedbed.  I had little trouble getting on a Jack Snipe from here, though the weather did hinder a little as this site has a screen, not a hide.

Day 5 (17/10)

My final day in Norfolk dawned to perfect weather.

All in all, I slept pretty well in my camper this trip, though last nights sleep was interrupted by a Little Owl calling close-by!
The group walk this morning was at Holkham, so rather than pay the ever-increasing parking charge there, I thought it would be a good idea to walk there via Burnham Overy Dunes, which is an area which has produced plenty in the past.

It was indeed a long walk, though it was very enjoyable, despite the nagging wind.  Nothing of particular note was seen, but there was still plenty of overhead passage occurring, including a number of Crossbill seemingly irrupting from the edge of Holkham pines.  Only one was seen well, and that was a Common.

The other top sighting was a very dark-looking Peregrine flying over the marsh, which had me scratching my head at first, till I re-found it and got better views, as it sat on the beach.

Once at the pines, I took a route along the seaward edge, and had two Grey Wagtail fly past, as well finding many Common Darter dragonfly.  Female and male here.

 As well as a fascinating (well, I think so!) Rabbit skull.
I joined up with the group at the end of Lady Anne's Drive, and we set off along the landward edge.  

The usual woodland species had been seen, up to the point when a very surprise Woodlark flew over with some Skylark.  My first 'out of habitat' sighting.

Both hides were disappointing, and a couple of very promising looking Tit-flocks held nothing more unusual than several Chiffchaff.  My walk back to the car was uneventful also.  Nonetheless, a very enjoyable ramble.

It was now a matter of making my way back to Surrey, attempting to avoid the traffic (I didn't do a very good job of that!).

But, I had to give those pesky two-bars one last try at Lynford.  Far better encounters were had with Common Crossbill than last time.  Despite how it appears at first glance, this bird is a young male, as it had quite a bit of red on it, particularly on the head.

But, yet again, there was no sign of the quarry.  I've now dipped this species four times this autumn!

After that, I made a brief sortie onto a good Stone Curlew site not far from Weeting, but it appears they have genuinely moved on.  A few Yellowhammer were the only consolation.

I got home pretty exhausted but delighted!  Final total for the trip was 126 species.

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