A fabulous days birding with great friends Sharon and John.
Sharon and John picked me up yesterday from Albrighton and I stayed the night so that we could head out early for a couple of days birding in Norfolk. The alarm went off at 03:30 and we were on our way an hour or so later all set with some toast for a stop on the way and sandwiches and coffee to keep us going during the day.
The drive over was quiet until the light was just starting to come up and we spotted a superb hunting Barn Owl (Lechuza Común / Tyto alba) along the roadside so we stopped on a supermarket car park and watched it for a while as it gave us close good views. We also heard and saw Wren (Chochin / Troglodytes troglodytes), Dunnock (Acentor Común / Prunella modularis), Pheasant (Faisán Vulgar / Phaisanus colchicus), Common Buzzard (Busardo Ratonero / Buteo buteo), Jackdaw (Grajilla / Corvus monedula) and Carrion Crow (Corneja Negra / Corvus corone).
We drove towards Hunstanton and did a quick loop around the Woolferton Triangle but only saw a single Muntjac (Muntiacus reevesi) on the roadside.
We reached Hunstanton and went out to the cliff edge seeing Black-headed (Gaviota Riedora / Larus ridibundus) and Herring Gull (Gaviota Argéntea Europea / Larus argentatus) on the grass on the way and scanned the exposed rock below. Due to the low tide we picked up several wader species including Eurasian Curlew (Zaoaito Real / Numenius arquata), Common Redshank (Archibebe Común / Tringa totanus), Pied Oystercatcher (Ostrero Euroasiatico / Haematopus ostralegus) as well as several Dark-bellied Brent Geese (Barnacla Carinegra / Branta bernicla), a flyby Great Cormorant (Cormorán Grande / Phalacrocroax carbo) and then the bird I wanted the Fulmar (Fulmar Boreal / Fulmarus glacialis) a species I had not seen for 15 years or so. As we walked back to the car a pair of Mallard (Anade Azulón / Anas platyrhynchos) flew over the roof tops where there were a few more Carrion Crows and several Common Starlings (Estornino Pinto / Sturnus vulgaris).
On the way to our next stop at Titchwell we picked up a Common Gull (Gaviota Cana /Larus canus) on the golf course, a good flock of Pink-footed Geese (Ánsar Piquicorto / Anser brachyrhynchus), Woodpigeon (Paloma Torcaz / Columba palumbus), Collared Dove (Tórtola Turca / Streptopelia decaocto) and a flock of Fieldfare (Zorzal Real / Turdus pilaris).
We parked up and Sharon got the toast and coffee out and whilst we warmed up with a drink and toast we picked up large numbers of Northern Lapwings (Avefria Europea / Vanellus vanellus) as several flocks moved inland off the Marshes. In the surrounding trees a Robin (Petirrojo Europeo / Erithacus rubecula) could be heard ticking, Common Chaffinch (Pinzón Vulgar / Fringilla coelebs) were flying overhead and there were a couple of Redwings (Zorzal Alirrojo / Turdus illacus) in some Hawthorns near the loo block.
Near the visitor centre we checked the feeding station adding Dunnock (Acentor Común / Prunella modularis), Goldfinch (Jilguero / Carduelis carduelis), Greenfinch (Verderón Común / Carduelis chloris), Great (Carbonera Común / Parus major) and Blue Tit (Herrerillo Común / Parus caeruleus), Common Moorhen (Gallineta Común / Gallinulas chloropus), Blackbird (Mirlo Común / Turdus merula) and a calling Common Magpie (Urraca / Pica pica).
We walked out on to the marshes on the track towards the sea and we decided to walk straight out to the beach to see what was on the shoreline before people disturbed everything. On the way we saw Reed Bunting (Escribano Palustre / Emberiza schoeniclus), Meadow Pipit (Bisbita Pratense / Anthus pratensis), 6+ Marsh Harriers (Aguilucho Lagunero Occidental / Circus aeruginosus) and on the fresh water part of the marsh Linnet (Pardillo Común / Carduelis cannabina), Little Grebe (Zampullín Común / Tachybaptus ruficollis), Gadwall (Anade Friso / Anas strepera), Eurasian Wigeon (Sibón Europeo / Anas penelope), Eurasian Teal (Cerceta Común / Anas crecca), more Dark-bellied Brent Geese, Greylag Geese (Ansar Común / Anser anser), a flying male Goosander (Serreta Grande / Mergus merganser), Shelduck (Tarro Blanco / Tadoma tadorna), Eurasian Coot (Focha Común / Fulica atra), a Dunlin (Correlimos Común / Calidris alpina), a single Black-tailed Godwit (Aguja Colinegra / Limosa limosa) in one of the ditches on the salt marsh area, Common Kestrel (Cernicalo Vulgar / Falco tinnunculus) and just as we got to the end of the track Sharon picked up a Merlin (Esmerejón / Falco columbarius) which John and I eventually saw in a distant bush.
It was a tad breezy up on the beach so we found a place to tuck our selves in behind the dunes and scanned the beach and the further out to sea, on the beach we found good numbers of Bar-tailed Godwit (Aguja Colipinta / Limosa lapponica), Grey Plover (Chorlito Gris / Pluviali squatarola), a couple of Red Knot ( Correlimos Gordo / Calidris canutus), a single Ruddy Turnstone (Vuelvepiedras Común / Arenaria interpres), Sanderling (Correlimos Tridáctilo / Calidris alba) and 4 female Common Eider (Eider Común / Somateria mollissima). Out to sea a Black-throated Diver (Colimbo Ártico / Gavia arctica) and several Red-throated (Colimbo Chico / Gavia stellata) were mixed in with at least 6 Long-tailed Ducks (Pato Havelda / Clangula hyemalis), Great Crested Grebe (Somormujo Lavanco / Podiceps cristatus), Red-breasted Merganser (Serreta Mediana / Mergus serrator), several Goldeneye (Porrón Osculado /Bucephala clangula) with some nice males in the flock, 100 or so Northern Pintail (Ánade Rabudo / Anas acuta) in a flock on the sea and further along the beach a group of Lesser Black-backed Gulls (Gaviota Sombria / Larus fuscus).
As we walked back towards the visitors centre we called in at the new hide which over the years has had a few detrimental comments but I was pleasantly by the look of it but as we were only in there very briefly I cannot comment on the functionality of it. Anyway whilst we were in the right hand hide we picked up Golden Plover (Chorlito Dorado Europeo / Pluvialis apricaria), Avocet (Avoceta Común / Recurvirostra avosetta),Tufted Duck (Porrón Monudo / Aythya fuligula), Snipe (Agachadiza Común / Gallinago gallinago), Skylark (Alondra Común / Alauda arvensis) and from just out side a couple of Egyptian Geese (Ganso del Nilo / Alopochen aegyptiaca).
We reached the track off to the left which went through the reeds to a large screened pool but only managed to add Cetti's Warbler (Ruisenor Bastardo / Cettia cetti) on the way out to it and a calling Water Rail (Rascón Europeo / Rallus aquaticus) on the way to the centre. We had a look in the shop and I bought a replacement Crumb guard for my bins and then returned to the car where the rolls and coffee were soon out and being consumed. In the trees behind us we finished the Titchwell visit with a Coal Tit (Carbonero Garrapinos / Parus ater) and several Long-tails (Mito / Aegithalos caudatus).
Our next stop was at Holkham Park on the Lady Anns Road section near the beach but not before seeing a Sparrowhawk (Gavilán Común / Accipiter nisus) on the way there.
Once we had parked we scanned the flooded fields on either side as we walked towards the pines and what I think is a far more unsightly structure than the hide at Titchwell the Lookout. On the fields there were huge numbers of wildfowl including Eurasian Wigeon and Teal, Northern Shoveler (Pato Cuchara / Anas clypeata) and Greylag, Pink-footed, Dark-bellied Brent Geese and more Egyptian Geese (Ganso del Nilo / Alopochen aegyptiaca).
We walked through the woods and crowds of weekend country folk all dressed in the very smart waxed Jackets and hunter wellies and specking so posh I would have needed a translator to make contact. We reached the beach and had all managed to avoid standing the copious amounts of dog shit and turned right along the track down towards a fenced off area which had been erected to protect the birds from the people and photographers. On the way Sharon and John had a Short-eared Owl (Buho Campestre / Asio flammeus) but I was just ahead of them and missed it.
When we reached the fenced area John went right the way around the ropes whilst Sharon and I went along the near edge and had good views of a flock of around 25 or so stunning Snow Buntings (Escribano Nival / Plectrophenax nivalis) which were very flighty but gave us all some great views.
We walked back along the dune side of the area still looking for the Short-eared Owl and the missing Shore Larks (Alondra Cornuda / Eremophila alpestris). As we walked the Owl came up and showed well for us and disappeared off down the dunes. We continued on and I checked the one side of the salt marsh and John and Sharon checked the other and as usual Sharon picked up several small birds off in the distance and when John checked them out he found 20+ very very smart Shore Larks which showed nicely for us. Very pleased with the birds here we headed back to the car adding Common Kestrel (Cernicalo Vulgar / Falco tinnunculus) on the way and as we again had a coffee the first of a few Mute Swan (Cisne Vulgar / Cygnus olor).
We drove further along the coast to Stifkey Fen where we parked and walked out to the sea wall, on the way we had 2 male and a female Bullfinches (Camachuelo Común / Pyrrhula pyrrhula) in the willows. The fen was quiet but in the surrounding fields we had 3 Stock Doves (Paloma Zurita / Columba oenas) and back by the car 3 Red-legged Partridges (Perdiz Roja / Alectoris rufa).
As it was getting late in the day we went back to the other side of Stifkey and dropped down on to the marshes there to see what came in for the roost. During the last hour of light we had several Marsh Harriers another Short-eared Owl, a Great Black-backed Gull (Gavión Atlántico / Larus marinus) and right in the last bit of light a female Hen Harrier (Aguilucho Pálido / Circus cyaneus).
Our digs for the night were 1.5 hours away down in Great Yarmouth so we set off, checked in and the wandered the winter seafront looking for something to eat. A great days birding Thanks Sharon and John.