Saturday, 15 September 2007

Norfolk weekend day 1 - wader bonanza

Free weekends have been a scarce commodity of late and with a decent weather forecast, I decided to 'go for it' with a crack of dawn Friday start - destination North Norfolk! I had a bed for the Friday night in Sheringham but the whole world was descending for various 'non birding' events on the Saturday - there was literally, no room at any Inn or B&B. As luck would have it, driving through Old Hunstanton, I noticed a 'vacancies' sign - a quick stop and query got the desired result, a B&B for Saturday night! (Hmm, didn't think to check out the room though.....)

Titchwell was my first port of call, a Pec. Sand had been showing well the previous day....

The Island hide was my first stop where 2 Little Stint and 2 Curlew Sandpiper (one below) were amongst a small flock of Dunlin. A single Snow and Lesser White-Fronted plus presumed escape Ross's Goose were amongst the Geese. The Pec. Sand was quite distant but I could see it would be easier to view from the path, so off I went.

The Pec was showing well but nowhere near enough for photography so, onwards to the next hide where Lapwing, Ruff, Knot, Golden Plover, Redshank and Spotted Redshank, Greenshank, Black and Bar-tailed Godwit were added to the list. There was a very strange Ruff with leucistic head - I just wondered if this was the bird seen distantly which had sparked the 'possible Phalarope' rumour earlier....

And then to the beach, (with a Whimbrel over and calling on the way!) where well in excess of a thousand Knot were gathering as the tide retreated. This was photographic heaven, although it was too overcast for real quality shots - I was busy for the next three hours. Apart from Knot, there were numerous Oystercatchers, good numbers of Sanderling, Ringed Plover, Barwits and Turnstone. Grey Plover were in a distinct minority - these remain one of my favourite waders but they don't like being approached by people and photographers - even less!!

Just a few of the better pictures (Barwits, Turnstone, Sanderling and Knot) from the session below, I was particularly pleased with the Turnstone working out how to turn a rather large stone plus the juvenile Gannet (like something out of Jurassic Park) taken from the beach!! And as for that Curlew, I reckon she was at the front of the queue when bills were handed out!

Feeling pretty euphoric, I made my back to the reserve where the buzz was that the Pec. Sand was showing really well again. It's not easy to jog with a Gitzo and 500mm lens over the shoulder but I tried. I needn't have hurried - great views were had for 45 minutes or so, with the bird down to just 30m or so at times.

Could the day get any better? Just time to call in at Cley on my way to Sheringham. Cley was 'quiet' but it's own high standards but some missing waders got ticked immediately: Avocet, Common Snipe and Green Sandpiper. There was a Gull gathering of about 500 Black heads with a single juv Med Gull present. A couple of Marsh Harriers also came down and landed near the waters edge.

Just in case you haven't been counting, the tally of different waders was 23 for the day from a total of approx 70 species. There's 'not much' around in Norfolk at present but I tell you what - that was quite a days birding with a camera!

And more to come.....

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