Where was I? Oh yes, I was in Norfolk over the weekend. Once again, many thanks to Jo and Ian in Norwich for putting me up, or putting up with me. Whichever is most appropriate, either way it is much appreciated.
For the next month I'm fully armed with Rare Bird Alert's text message service, as I'm too tight to get a pager again. It'll cover me for when I'm in Shetland, in three weeks time, as well. It's really good actually as you can set it to a single county (or any number of counties), and set the date and time of when you want to start and finish to receive SMS's.
Saturday 20th September, Cley, 9:20 - 13:30
As it turned out to be a lovely sunny day again (oh eck, see Spurn Pointless!), I thought a morning at Cley would be the best bet, then if anything along the north coast turned up on the moby, then we're set to go. A Dotterel was also seen at Cley the evening before.
Unfortunately there was no sign of the Dotterel today, but over the morning it turned out to be a classic Cley selection of stuff. Including 16 Little Stint, 4 Curlew Sandpiper, 6 Spotted Redshank, 9 Little Egret, 4 Marsh Harrier, 3 Sandwich Tern, 7 Bearded Tit, calling Cetti's Warbler, Avocets, loads of Golden Plover. Also 7 Swallows and 2 Yellow Wagtail, hanging onto summer.
Despite the feeling of inferiority, photography-wise in some of the hides, compared with photographers that seem to have the hubble telescope on a camera. My best attempts at Curlew Sandpiper and Little Stint are below.
Titchwell, 14:30 - 16:50.
Over the course of the morning it was clear that the best bird seen along the North Norfolk Coast was the Red-Necked Phalarope at Titchwell. When arriving at the freshmarsh, in addition to an overhead Hobby, the waderfest continued!
Sure enough the Phalarope was there, swimming and spinning away, as if it'd been bowled by Shane Warne! Or one of those clockwork toys you can buy for the bath. Now there's an idea RSPB, if you're reading! I want the royalties, or I'm off to Dragon's Den with my own prototype!
Whilst watching the Phalarope, I overheard one of the wardens mention a Pectoral Sandpiper. Right, I'm after that! We managed a Water Rail along the edge of the reeds first. Then not long after that I managed to locate the Pec Sand, thanks to the scope zoomed up to 60x. Turn your amps up to 11 for that one!
A bit of a seawatch (ugh!, apologies but I'm from the midlands!) produced an Arctic Skua, 1 Red-Throated Diver, 2 Eider, 1 Gannet, 3 Great Crested Grebes (I don't know about you, but I always find Great Crested Grebes on the sea a bit odd!). Also waders on the beach such as Grey Plover, Bar-Tailed Godwit.
On the walk back to the car, Kingfisher, another calling Cetti's Warbler and more Bearded Tits. In over 20 years of birding, this was by far my best day ever for Bearded Tit. No wind helps no end! Other waders on the freshmarsh include Spotted Redshank, Greenshank, loads of Ruff.
Sunday 21st September, Winterton Dunes, 9:15 - 11:00
During the course of the previous evening, the best bird received on the moby was a Wryneck at Winterton Dunes. Not a lot else to go for, so I thought we may as well try there. It's also somewhere in Norfolk that I've never been to before. Despite the good weather and the possibility that it could fly off overnight, you never know, it could still be around in the morning.
Behold the proof as below!
I must've been the first person to find the Wryneck that day. Thankfully we were watching a Redstart on the same patch of bramble. As soon as that flew off something flew onto it. My first thought was "that's a funny looking thrush". Then "ooh, aah, thats it!, Wryneck!!!" It's strange how often that can happen. You're looking at a bird in a particular spot, then something will either join it or replace it.
There were a couple of other birders there who had been looking in the same area of bushes in the dunes for over an hour. And there we were, straight away and pointing it out to them. At least they were grateful. As much as I was, it's one of the best views I've ever had of this species. A couple of minutes later it flew off into the bushes and performed more usual Wryneck behaviour, i.e. I didn't see it again! I'm really pleased with this shot of a Redstart that we got there however.