Thursday 12 May 2016

A Big Green Day

Sunday 8th May fresh ESE Sunny and warm 24C

Awake in my tent at an early hour I listen and hear woodlark and tree pipits singing. Getting out of my sleeping bag, getting dressed and wlking from the woodland to the heath I see woodlark and tree pipit; the latter is bird number 234.

I take my tent down and pack, making sure that my rhododendron surrounded clearing is clear of anything there before.
It is still before 6:00AM and I feel like a 'Big Day.' Coal tit, goldcrest and nuthatch before leaving Dersingham, Ihead for Snettisham. Last night's reason for heading this way, the alpine accentor at Gibraltar point, has flown and therefore Ithink I will head back to Titchwell via Holme. Can I get 100 birds today?

Arriving at Snettisham about an hour after the high tide mark, there are sill a good number of knot and oystercatchers at roost. It is around 8:30am and hot already. It is pleasant to shelter from the sun inside the bird screen. The closely packed knot hav a few more red, summer plumaged individuals than a few weeks ago yet most are still grey. There are two silent bird photographers in here. They have their lens focussed on the knot flock and ignore the action as a peregrine causes starling like murmurations of knot flocks over The Wash. They also ignore a rather humourous clash of two male black-headed gulls. A rogue male is trying to seduce another male's female. He hovers about a metre over the female as she keeps trying to peck him. Eventually the pair's male attacks the interloper and together they fight with beaks locked on the shingle. They roll around for a few minutes before disengaging and posturing.

Not a click from the cameras. Each to their own, I prefer the behavioural stories.
A text from The Oracle, bonelli's sp. Singing at Gibraltar Point. I set off. On reaching the main road the news is that the bird hasn't been either seen or heard again and so I decide to head for Hunstanton and Holme.
Walking along the cliff path at the former a pair of Mediterranean gulls fly past.
After lunch in the Norfolk Wildlife Trust, NWT, cafe an a chat with an ex-president of the NWT over farming subsidies and the Norfolk beef industry, I go through the Norfolk Ornitholical Association's bird observatory area and wave to the warden who is busy on the phone. Reaching the plank walkway along the sand dune ridge, I push and cycle to Thornham and onto Titchwell.
A birder calls me over. He has found a whinchat and wants to share it with me. Lucky me, another new bird to see for the year list. 235. Another birder shares his telescope a little further along the path so that I can see two wood sandpipers and add them to the year list too. 236.
A birder from Willenhall. Near to Wolverhampton one of my old home places, tells me that he has seen two spotted flycatchers nearby and soon enough we are watching them as they fly catch from perches in the willows. 237. Three new year ticks in quick succession, can't be bad.

The day list is seventy five and with Titchwell still to explore properly, the list climbs steadily. Brent geese are still her in good numbers and a greenshank has replaced the wood sandpipers. A short-eared owl quarters Thornham Marsh and is chased by a marsh harrier spectacularly.
Year listing isn't finished for the day yet as a grasshopper warbler reels and by climbing on a bench, I get a very brief view of it before it drops down into thick cover.

Red-crested pochard on Patsy's Pool takes the list to ninety-eight for the day and despite the sun having almost set I decide to cycle to nearby Choseley Barns to try for the final two birds that would take me to the magic 100.
The sun sets and the thinnest of crescent Moons is in the clear sky. The dotterels aren't on view but a male yellowhammer is singing and easy to see.
All the partridge seem to be red-legged but using my camera as a telescope I can just make out a dark belly on a distant bird. Grey partridge, bird number 100 for the day. Brilliant.

So the year list now stands at 238, 29 birds ahead of this time last year.

30.4 miles 691 feet up elevation 801 feet elevation down

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