We’re well into the new year and I’ve not had a chance catch up on my blog for a long while so thought I pen a few lines about my birding escapades since getting off Scilly
The Franklin’s Gull that had appeared on the Hayle Estuary whilst I was away couldn’t be located initially on the 30th until Brad checked the fields at Lelant and promptly re-found it! I had to wait until the afternoon though until it flew down to the estuary so I could count it on my Patchwork challenge year list! The following day Mark turned up a Cattle Egret roosting with the gulls there two, so October finished with a flurry of 3 pointers!
The next decent bird was again on the estuary, this time in the form of a drake Green-winged Teal. It’s been a few years since we had a long-stayer on site and at time of writing it’s still there! The bird is wearing a metal ring and from digits and numbers read so far, it appears to be from the North American ringing scheme. As time has gone on it has developed the strong white crescent on its flanks which wasn’t overly evident when it first arrived. On 6th December Brad came up trumps again with a 3rd calendar year Caspian Gull on the estuary. embarrassingly this was actually a ‘Lifer’ for me!! So I was glad to get that one in the bag!
On the 9th December, Brad, Jake and I headed for our long-awaited trip to North Norfolk. We had planned to set off in the early hours of Friday morning aiming for an early start on the north Norfolk coast. However, after a short discussion we decided to take a detour, to Derbyshire and the Dusky Thrush. Mark and Kerry had the same idea and met us at first light in the village of Beeley. After queueing in the dark for an hour it began to get light and eventually the bird showed briefly in the half-light. It wasn’t seen again until a good few hours later when it relocated to a nearby field and gave much better views, albeit distantly and through the scope! While we waited we were privileged to see a superb male Hen Harrier fly over, much to Brad’s delight who needed it as a year tick!
After a long cross-country drive we arrived in Norfolk with enough light left for a quick visit to Holkham. Shorelarks were our main quarry here but they remained elusive, despite a good walk round the saltmarsh. Brad picked out an adult Black Brant with six Brent Geese, which was an added bonus and as we headed back to the car twenty plus Shorlarks flew over us towards the pine belt. Other birds here included Pink-footed Goose (obviously), Egyptian Goose and Marsh Harrier.
We stayed, during our three day trip, at The Three Swallows at Cley, a superb Pub with great accommodation and friendly staff and I would thoroughly recommend it to anyone planning a trip to Norfolk. A very comfortable first night was had by all, especially seeing as we were all knackered after the long journey from Cornwall! After missing my Issy Wheatear in Cornwall, we headed to Burnham Ovary the next morning, so Brad, Kerry and Jake could get their tick! The bird showed extremely well down to a few feet and as it turns out we were lucky as it was not seen again after that day! Other birds of note here were 38 Barnacle Geese and a Rough-legged Buzzard. The latter bird was a lucky find as we were unsuccessful at our next destination, Chosely Drying Barns. On a positive note I did see my first ever Chinese Water Deer there, a cracking buck that showed really well until it detected us and sprinted off across the field. The rest of the day was spent at the RSPB’s flagship reserve at Titchwell. This is still one of my favourite places in Norfolk and we headed straight for the beach to marvel at the masses of sea duck offshore. In amongst the 300 or more Common Scoter were 30+ Long-tailed Ducks, Red-breasted Mergansers, Goldeneye and three Velvet Scoter. The reserve itself turned up the expected Avocet and Spotted Redshank and a nice Brambling on the feeders.
Our final morning was spent at Blakeney where we walked along the footpath across the saltmarsh in search of Twite. We weren’t disappointed when a flock of twelve landed on the fence right next to us! It was a cold crisp winter morning, typical of Norfolk at that time of year and of course the skies were full of skeins of Pink-footed and Brent Geese. After circumnavigating the ring-road around Norwich we landed at our final destination, Costessey. Not a well known Norfolk hotspot, but a street lined with berry bushes that had attracted 23 Waxwings. Always a pleasure and generally quite tame, these incredible Scandinavian beauties showed really well and allowed for some great photos. The long drive back to Cornwall then began, but not without at least ten Red Kite being seen through Kent and along the M40 corridor. A superb weekend away, with great company and birds. Who could ask for more!
The last noteable bird of the year and without doubt one of the prettiest was the Eastern Black Redstart at Mousehole. This was a superb added bonus as news broke of one at Tewksbury Abbey en-route back from Norfolk, but it was late and we couldn’t get to it in time. So all in all a superb year with an amazing array of birds. I managed to find a potential first for Britain and a second for Cornwall, so mustn’t grumble. Looking forward to a bit more of a relaxing year in 2017 with no listing planned and concentrating on my patches at Hayle and Gwithian.