Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Cleaning up in Norfolk

Six local birders travelled to Norfolk on Saturday through plummeting temperatures to start the day off at Thornham and Titchwell. The area had been frozen under snow for over a week and the car thermometer went as low as -14oC. Highlights included Coue’s Arctic Redpoll, Mealy Redpoll, Cetti’s Warbler, Avocet, 3 Smew and 2 Bittern at Titchwell.  The latter showed exceptionally well sat in the sun at the edge of the reeds and occasionally walking along the edge of the frozen pool on Thornham Marsh.  A freezing sea mist hugged the shore but during intervals Long-tailed Ducks could be seen and an Iceland Gull flew east.  Near the car park a Woodcock fed amongst the willows.
 Coue's Arctic Roll, photo: Pete Wood.
 Bittern on ice and 1/3 redhead Smew at Titchwell.
1 of 11 shorelark at Holkham- beautiful birds:

Wells-next-the-Sea produced 2 Black Brant and we ended the day at Holkham expecting geese to arrive to roost but the land was too frozen and the geese elsewhere.  A raptor approaching from the east carried on to the fresh marsh and proved to be the pale form Rough-legged Buzzard.  At Holkham Gap 11 Shorelark fed in two groups and 30+ Snow Bunting were hard to keep track of scurrying through the saltmarsh with Skylarks.  The sun ebbed over the famous Holkham pines and after a cracking first afternoon we retreated to the warmth and security of a nearby pub!  In the morning back at Holkham we caught up with the classic looking RLB which flew east.  Just before Wells we spotted it again this time with the other pale looking bird both perched up in a tree.  This I think must be a leucistic type, almost harrier-grey but still showing key features such as the bib streaking and tail band.
 The other Holkham RLB, a showing more typical features.
At Wells the pale RLB flew overhead and carried on NE over the salt marsh.  Cley held a few Beardies and Snow Buntings totalled 50+ at Salthouse.  A darvic ringed bird seen here was ringed at Caister, Norfolk, in Dec 2011 and had since been to Suffolk before returning to Salthouse.  Heading inland the GGS at Fakenham had since disappeared so on to Cantley and after moving round to Buckenham we finally caught up with the LWFG, a group of Taiga Bean Geese, some GWFG and local group of Barnacle Geese.  Ending the day at Stubb Mill NWT a good roost of Marsh Harriers, 3 Merlin with a grand finale of 22 Common Crane, what a great spot.
 This i think is one of the paler nivalis birds present.
 Leucistic DBBrent at Cley.
 Jack Russell at Titchwell and another pic of the Arctic Roll.
With a couple of hours spare on Sunday we headed back to Titchwell in clearer conditions and had better views of the Arctic Redpoll and the sea was on form.  Velvet Scoter, Scaup, Red-necked Grebe, Black-throated Diver, 2 Slavonian Grebe and Long-tailed Duck were all on show.  Just over the sea wall a Chinese Water Deer looked back at a group of onlookers. Up at Choseley, a few Corn Bunting were with more numerous Yellowhammer.
Hammers by Pete Wood.

Heading home we managed a bit of gulling adding a YLG at Milton, Cambs and the end of 48hrs birding with 133 species seen.  Thanks to the lads for a great trip, great company and birding dawn till dusk with a few pints thrown in.


  1. Nice one Rob. Great trip, memorable birds - my kind of stag do! Superb driving skills in crazy conditions fair play to you.

  2. Those pints of Oystercatcher went down perfickly after a hard days birding, intense but brilliant!

  3. Brilliant birding! Norfolk is just amazing at any time of year but this winter has been mega.

    Alan and Ruth