Monday, November 19, 2007

Anser Birding trip to Norfolk 15-18 November 2007

Which one is off side? The Wells Next the Sea football pitch is good for Dark-bellied Brent but can you spot the Black Brants?

Pomarine Skua at Salthouse
Sunset at Salthouse
Grey Partridge near Titchwell, it is hiding from a Merlin!
Lapland Bunting at Salthouse

15 November 2007 Four of us traveled to North Norfolk, three staying in Hunstanton and one in Burnham Deepdale. We plumped for heading straight to Wells Next the Sea for lunch with the waders, Shag and Brents in the harbour but only after stopping for to view Pink-footed Geese en-route. There were 2 Black Brant among the footie pitch Brents but a selfish photographer flushed the whole flock before we could all get onto them. With other species in mind we headed to Salthouse where a few Ruff, a flyover Snow Bunting,a pale phase Pomarine Skua (that flew a few feet overhead)and a Little Auk were all of much interest. The sunset was spectacular.

16 November 2007 A search from Hunstanton Cliffs produced a raft of 19 Fulmar, a Little Gull, a Red-throated Diver, 1000,s of Starlings arriving, a few Red-breasted Mergansers, a Marsh Harrier in off the sea, about 30 Common Scoter and 2 Eider. Moving along the coast we arrived at Titchwell RSPB, we passed some feeding Siskins before we walked out to the sea passing a Spotted Redshank en-route. A single Snow Bunting flew over and 7 Eider were on the sea, it was quiet out there. The beach was really busy with plenty of waders feeding close, until a dog flushed them all. The Turnstones were good value as they attempted to rob any pre-prepared mussels from the Oystercatchers. A female Goldeneye and Little Grebe fed in the saline pools as well as 3 tame Shoveler. The freshwater scrape had a variety of duck and gulls, 7 hardy Avocet and 10 Snipe. The boardwalk and hide only produced a Cetti's that was calling queitly. After lunch we left for Choseley Drying barns and did a tour inland. A male Merlin was found atop a hedge, a Buzzard also and a covey of 8 Grey Partridge were seen well. Further searching produced afew Yellowhammer and Red-legged Partridges but we eventually joined the coast road where 10,000+ Pink-footed Geese were enjoyed as they alighted and fed in a field next to us and walked ever closer before being pushed off by another car. A Ross's x Pink-footed Goose was also present as well as an immature Light-bellied Brent. We spent a long time with the geese here before enjoying more flight views of skeins overhead and a Barn Owl at Holkham, another showed well on the way home.
17 November 2007 We decided to head for Salthouse, on leaving we watched a pair of Whoopers come in off the sea and head inland at Old Hunstanton, en route we ended up stopping for more Pink-footed Goose views and on arrival quickly relocated the Pomarine Skua and a Purple Sandpiper. The sea was quiet but a party of 5 Lapland Buntings flew over and there were plenty of waders about. Three Snow Bunting were attracted to some seeds that were placed on the shingle ridge and a Lapland Bunting was located and showed very well near to us. A stop at a Kelling tea-room warmed us up again and we then headed for the broads. We discovered a Barn Owl hunting at 1230 and were fortunate to see another later on. A Buzzard was seen on a distant haybale and c30 Whooper Swans were seen in flight. A search of the geese produced another Light-bellied Brent plus Ruff, Dunlin, Lapwing, Turnstone and eventually Golden Plover in the fields. We were unable to find the Cranes in any of the nearby fields and failed to locate a reported American Golden Plover so went to the Stubb Mill roost where the ladies settled in to watch for the Cranes. At least 24 flew in at dusk so it was well worth the wait. (Note, turning at the bottom of the public road here is frowned upon, so no dropping people off)
18 November 2007 Another search from Hunstanton cliffs was rewarded with shelter from the lighthouse bushes and single Razorbill, Black-necked Grebe, Slavonian Grebe, Goosander (unusual here?) plus 12 Red-breasted Mergansers, 14 Fulmar, 2 Red-throated Divers, 3 Gannet, G.C.Grebes and a few more commoner species. A flock of 2000 Pinkfeet flew in behind us and we refound them in a field next to the town, a nice sendoff. A stop at WWT Welney as ever produced thousands of wildfowl, the Whooper and Bewick's Swans were around in their 100's and feeding in the fields but we did not locate the sat-track bird Blidfinnur that can be seen on the Super Whooper website. Stock Doves were also seen in the surrounding area and added Tree Sparrows and GSWoodpecker on the feeders. We had a last look at the Super Whooper Swans and then packed up for the journey home driving into rain, sleet and spray, how lucky we were for a dry visit to Norfolk. Great birds with marvellous views and some of the best winter birding in Europe.