North Norfolk 6th - 8th December
A two day stay at the White Horse at Blakeney was nearly cancelled due to the storm surge the previous morning. However, as far as the hotel was concerned, all was fine. Damage was considerable and it looks like it will be a fair while before all is back to normal along the whole of the North Norfolk coast.
This was not a birding trip so on the Monday morning we visited Cley HQ but no access to the beach or reserve, nor Salthouse beach car park, so we had a lovely walk from Kelling to Sheringham and back. The sea was its regular self but plenty of evidence all along the coastline of the high water previously. The amount of plastic bottles was amazing, literally 1000's. A disgrace really and I can't even begin to estimate how many 100,000's are floating around the North Sea.
|black headed gull|
|What was the footbridge over the ditch on to Cley Marshes. Misty Tuesday morning.|
|Salthouse beach road some 100 yards short of the original car park|
|Shingle ridge now in fields west of Salthouse car park|
|Shelduck on the road opposite Manor Hotel, Blakeney|
|wigeon, Blakeney harbour|
A day visit around the fens seemed to be a good idea in mild conditions. Normally, in winter, these 2 reserves can be bitterly cold, especially if there is a northerly wind. However, upon entry to Welney I bagged bird species 212 for the year, a bewicks swan. Most of the swans were away in fields, but quite a few whoppers and some distant bewicks remained. Huge numbers of pochard and in the distance, massive numbers of golden plover, lapwings and black tailed godwits. However, as usual, Welney doesn't hold my attention for too long and so off to Ouse Marshes.
|whoopers in flight|
|feeding whooper from the hide|
|Just a minority of the lapwings present at Welney|
|plovers and teal, Ouse Marshes|
|Ouse Marshes as the light fades|
|flight of lapwings|
|view from Stockdale hide|
|teal and a few wigeon|
Saturday before Christmas (21st) and Gary and I were off to North Norfolk. Our original destination had been North Kent, but with forecasted poor weather, plus the joy of shoppers at Lakeside and Bluewater, we changed our plans.
First stop, Titchwell in very poor light. A sea watch gave up little, few divers and a pair of red breasted mergansers, so off to the Parrinder Hide. From here, it was obvious many birds have not returned after the storm surge a fortnight previously. However, good numbers of teal and golden plover along with incoming brents made for a pleasant time. A greenshank with black tailed godwits was also good to see. A check around the dry lake near the HQ gave up plenty of pied wagtails but little else. A cettis called as we checked the feeders. Siskins were heard, but on the whole, not much to keep us. We headed for Kelling Hard where a Richard's pipit had been reported. Stopping off to check the geese at Lady Anne's Drive, we scored with.... geese! Wigeon also but no owls. A coffee at Cley to note the damage reported earlier before a soggy wander down to Kelling water meadows. Here there was very little to see. A red legged partridge called and a flock of 6+ bullfinches was all we noted as we walked down the track. The rain started with an increase in the breeze and my hat was soon weaving its way across the meadow. Once retrieved we, along with several others, continued our pipit search. This is a large area to cover for one bird and eventually the rain helped us decide that the car was a more sensible option. Off to Edgefield for some crossbill action. Nope, nothing doing with the parrots. They were present, apparently, but without knowing where, all we could do was stop and listen. Nothing, so off for some pastry based food and a stop off in the gathering gloom at Lyndford for common and 2 barred crossers. Nope, a coal tit, a mistle thrush defending a berry tree and a few siskins heard.
Whilst not our most successful Norfolk day, good to get one more trip in before the end of the year.
The light remained poor throughout the day, so just a couple of snaps from the parrinder hide and footpath.
This morning dawned crisp and frozen so off for a good walk around the west of the parish. Several gulls had caught my eye on Boxing Day so, firstly, off to check the flock of 40+ Strangely, for Little Hadham 32 were common gulls, whilst the rest were black headed. This is the largest number of commons I have recorded in the parish, so a great start. Off to check pines for crests, but little apart from usual, coal, great and blue tits. A kestrel flew overhead and plenty of red legged partridge called from the meadows. They have done well as there have been a few shoots around recently. A chat with the gamekeeper revealed no woodcock so far this winter.
I then back tracked, getting some finches overhead along with a flock of thrushes. 55+ fieldfare and 20+ redwing. A good number for here this year, where they have been in very low numbers. A green woodpecker made its presence known. A check for the owls showed a distant little owl at its usual oak tree roost and, whilst new evidence of the barn owl, it remained hidden in the hollow trunk of the roost it has used for 3 years.
On to the golf course for more gulls, lesser black backed this time and a flyover great spotted woodpecker before I headed home over ground still frozen. More thrushes overhead along with corvids, robins and a fly past sparrow hawk.
|goldfinch on teasel|
|2 common gulls and black headed|