As some of you may know Steve, Bun and myself have been in Norfolk for four days this week. Steve is in the process of writing a blow by blow account of our daily birding activities over on his blog, so I wont do that here as well, which is good because I'm not sure I can remember exactly what I saw where and when. That's a bit lame I know but I was still feeling rather under the weather and either suffering with a headache or slightly dazed under the influence of large doses of pain killers most of the time. Still it really didn't spoil my enjoyment of the birding and good company and I had a really fabulous time! I got to see five 'lifers' on this trip, those being, Golden Pheasant ( third time lucky at Wolferton Triangle for me; fifth time for Bun!) Shorelark, Snow Goose, Twite and Mealy Redpoll. Certainly as good and better in some cases were the thousands of Pink-footed Geese,the Merlin, Scaup ( including my first ever views of a drake), Smew, Long-tailed Duck, Barn Owls, Marsh Harriers, Woodcock (best ever views), Black Brant, Red-necked Grebe, Great Northern Diver (again best ever views) Glaucous Gull, Bearded Tits and Rough-legged Buzzard. Finally and definitely the best birds of the trip for me were the Hen Harriers, with close views of a glorious male at Warham Greens and incredibly close views of a ring tail at Haddiscoe Marshes, she was hunting only about 30ft away having not noticed us standing amongst the trees at the edge of some woodland. Magnificent stuff! Another bonus here was my first ever look at Chinese Water Deer, they're SO cute with their big round fluffy 'teddy bear' ears. In the words of Verruca Salt " I want one, now!"
I didn't take that many photos due to the very gloomy weather conditions which were prevalent throughout the entire trip. Sometimes it just didn't seem to get light in the morning, it was like constant dusk. I did my best though, well sometimes!
Yes, yes it's true. There ARE Golden Pheasants at Wolferton Triangle and here's the proof. I nearly fainted when I actually caught a glimpse of one. It turned out to be one of three males and a female, two of which bravely came out to feed on the grass verge where we tried to photograph them from inside the car with predictably poor results. A stunning close up perhaps? ... are you sure? Oh go on then..
Awesome ain't it?
There's a video too. Forgive my far from rock steady hold on the camera, I was excited, don't you know! ;-)
I didn't take many scenery shots coz they'd have all looked as dismal and grey as this one.
Behind the bank to the right is Snettisham beach or as it's also known, (well by me anyway) 'The Beach of a Thousand Corpses' It really was littered with them, a seal pup being the most lamentable. It was good for live birds too though with huge flocks of waders out on The Wash, and on the beach these beauties.
These were the main target bird this year, having missed out on seeing them last year and the year before too in Bun's case so a welcome lifer for us both. They hadn't been in the usual spot but Steve spied them 500 metres or so further to the north. We managed to get good views and a few photos before they suddenly started to scamper away from us. Why? We'd been spotted scoping something by a bevy of birders further along the beach and they were on their way over en masse, the ensuing earth tremor was the cause of the birds retreat.
And here they are, well some of them, a few had left ( probably yearlisters) before I took this photo. One 'gentleman' amongst them did a superb job of endearing himself to us, especially to Steve!
I took a photo of this obviously wild Barnacle Goose with a compact camera, no zoom was used just incredible fieldcraft!!
This pair of Scaup were on Wells-Next-The-Sea boating lake. It was almost dark unfortunately. I took this awful photo though because it was my first ever view of a drake. Very nice he was too.
One of the three female Smew at Tichwell. They were always quite distant and all my photo attempts were crap. I've put this one on though because it was amusing watching this individual trying to consume a Roach (I think) that was twice the size of its head!!
Steve spent a LOT of time on the phone.
It didn't stop him seeing stacks more stuff than me though.
The stirringly picturesque Blackborough End Tip, where Bun is enjoying the spectacle of thousands upon thousands of gulls from which to string a Caspian.
Here are a few of them..
Can you spot any interesting ones?
Of course you can't, one because you can't see 'em clearly enough and two, because there weren't any!
Here's an interesting one, but this Med Gull was at West Runton,
showing well on the 'famous' post in the car park.
Further along the coast at Sheringham was this gorgeous brute..
Phwoar!!!! What a stonking Glonk!
I was thrilled to see this Woodcock sitting out in the open next to a pool alongside Lady Anne's Drive at Holkham. Although it was nearly dark I managed to get an unexpected and pleasingly decent result using 1600 ISO. You can even see water droplets on its back.
Yesterday I also got some surprisingly good results photographing a Great Northern Diver on Whitlingham Great Broad in Norwich, despite the murky conditions, it was obligingly close to the shore though.
This Red-necked Grebe wasn't nearly so obliging and stayed on the far bank in the mist. Even so, it was my best ever view of one and I managed a record shot. There's plenty of room in the photo though so Gav should approve at least! ;-)
Finally the 'piece de resistance' my atmospheric portrait of the Haddiscoe Marshes' Rough-legged Buzzard. You probably can't see it because thick fog had set in before I thought to get a photo. I'm putting it on here though especially for Bun because it was a lifer for him after FIVE previous dips. Now he can look at this exquisitely detailed portrait anytime he likes and it'll be just like being there! ;-)