I keep fighting against the pressure of the list. For 8 days I felt I needed to add something to something. But having taken some early birds in March -WWarbler, Wheatear; and SMartin. and the change in weather I couldnt get a peep out of a Blackcap or a whistle from a Kingfisher.
Than a Little Egret in my 5km (91). so close to home brought back all the memories of ones dipped in years gone by -when they were chaseworthy. The one at Salthouse that would not come out of the dyke on a cold February day. And the one at ASDA Great Yarmouth. All you need to do is park in the car park look over the sea wall and . . . No. And so many years later there is one so close to home.
Followed closely by a 5km Peregrine (92) and seen from the house (98 over nearly 30 years). this was long overdue having seen them close to the house before.
Still slow until Easter week. A diversion from a trip to Middlesbrough -Med Gulls (125) and Blackwits (126) at RSPB Saltholme. Then to deliver oldies to a hospital in Norwich visit I felt the need to call at RSPB Lakenheath for the first time.
The enthusiam of the vol. on the gate to tell me about everybird -not every species was over ridden by my need to see birds. I had already seen more Brimstones in an hour than I normally see in a year but in 20C warmth Peacocks and Small Tortoiseshells we very active too. Then the birds. Marsh Harrier (126), Ruff (128), Garganey (129) -a nice pair giving great views. In the distance Cranes called (130). A kingfisher (131) flew over as a couple tried to refind a swimming Grass Snake. First singing Blackcap (132). Then right at the far end a Bittern (133) boomed. I havent heard this sound for years and was made up. So pleased with the trip I didnt call at Weeting or Lynford. The former just felt like I was going to a Zoo for a tick, though I know NWT do great stuff and I will not get Stone Curlew now this year.
Then this was going to be the killer. Driving four times past the Earlham marsh near the N&N Hospital with its Glossy Ibis. So near but yet so far. Neither parents were going to be able to do that walk today. But OMG right close to the road whilst in slow traffic there was the ibis. Bang 134. I should have given it more respect. They are fabulous oil on water petrol colours, but maybe next time.
Then the drive back from Norfolk another reserve tick in the form of RSPB Frampton. This has to be experienced. It is the most bird rich place in the UK away from a seabird colony I have been. It is like all the birds in Lincs have been sucked into this one spot. Maybe they have as the drive across the fens was like traversing death valley and should be a post in its own rights.
Needless to say I am poor at this tick and run game. The Cuckoo and IOW Eagle had gone by the time I arrived but the air was full of Brent geese (135) calls and I spent too long/not enough time watching to get through all the ticks available. In particular I could have added Chewit and LStint but was so full of watching. I could have asked but as I overheard someone pointing to a black-coloured Ruff and calling it a Spotshank I didnt bother. I did add LRP (136), Spoonbill (137) and Sedge Warblers (138) -newly arrived and full of life. I also didnt bother the long walk to Little Gull but I had already overstayed the time I set aside for this diversion. But wow what a place. Go, you will be amazed.
In the short turn around -18hrs before heading back to Norfolk Blackcaps (93) could be heard from the garden.
No side trips on the way down to Blakeney. And then it was a couple of days before I did the right thing and visited the long-staying Red-breasted Goose (139), especially as it was only 10 mins walk from our holiday house. On reaching the Quay we could see a ‘Leica couple’ walking back on the seawall.
Me: ‘Seen the Goose?’
Them: ‘Its on Blakeney Saltings according to the website, but we dont know where they are.’
Me: ‘Here’ Pointing west from where we were standing and seeing small groups of scattered Brents.
Them: ‘we will go and ask someone’
Needless to say after a brief scan the RBG was found with Brents infront of the Blakeney Hotel. Infact there were two RBGs the other pinnioned in the duck pond. But lets not go there. And the ‘Leica pair’ yes they saw it but to do so walked out onto the marsh.
The afternoon was spent around Glandford. A walk from Natural Surroundings gave Whitethroat (140) and Egyptian Goose (141). it is a tranquil wrap around hug from nature. What a great place and Marsh Tit and Kingfisher were a bonus, as were the Brimstones.
Bank holiday monday was spent in the garden of a cousin and migrants were arriving House Martin (142), Garden Warbler (143) and Lesser Whitethroat (144), but none of the flood of Ringos gracing the county. Buzzards, kites, Sparrowhawks and a Marsh Harrier played across the sky. An evening walk added Swallow (145), Grasshopper Warbler (146) and a fly over Spoonbill.
Tuesday failed with Cattle Egret – I am not sure they really exist in England but the call of a Sandwich Tern (147) from Cley beach was proper summer.
Wednesday the wind was off the sea and turning cold but still sunny. Meeting Barry at Cley reserve* was a treat though it is not the mecca it once was and the ground just seems very dry away from the pools. Bearded Tit (148) and Reed Warblers (149) from the East Bank and Whimbrel (150) calling along the beach. Then spun a merry dance in a search for Kelling Heath before we called it a day.
Last bird of the holiday was a Firecrest (151) singing in a private garden. Its a long time since I have had such a score before the end of April.
Back home House Martin, Lesser Whitethroat, Swallow, Willow Warbler, Garden Warbler took the 5km up to 98.
Then it was the month that just kept on giving with Whinchat (152) within my 5km (100). And a before then Grasshopper Warbler (99) reeling there too.
*The one that got away? Pulled into Cley NWT and before being parked. A bird across the reeds heading West looked interesting. But it carried on going and with a distant arse-end view I will never know if it really was a Purple Heron, but later I found there had been one over Edgefield around 7am. None were reported in N Norfolk that week, but i think some of the birders seen at the RBG might not have recognised one even if it was at the Ice Cream van in the queue.