Saturday, 16 January 2016

New Years Day In Norfolk - 1.1.16

As my birding will no doubt be limited this year due to impending fatherhood in March I wanted to get the year list off to a good start so I joined Chris Sharp, Paul Frost and Ephraim Perfect on a trip to the north coast of Norfolk. We met at Chris's house at 6am and headed north. As it became lighter the species were slowly ticked off and as we approached Lynford Arboretum a decision was made to spend an hour or so here. The usual suspects were being added one by one but quite quickly the first good bird of the year was seen as a Hawfinch took flight and called not far from the car park. A second bird was seen in the paddocks. As we neared the bridge next to the small lake a Marsh Tit called and soon we had a couple of them by the feeders. It was strange birding on New Years Day with Daffodils and Snow drops in flower but it has been a mild winter. We left the arboretum on 37 species and by the time we hit Abbey Farm,Flitcham another 9 species had been seen from the car.

At this site we joined a fair few other birders for a couple of hours hoping to see the juvenile Pallid Harrier but alas our run of dipping this species continued on from Shetland! But whilst waiting for the non existent harrier to show we did have a few good birds to look at in the shape Tree Sparrow, 4 Brambling and Pink-Footed Goose.

Our next stop was the barns at Choseley. Here we hoped to see at least 1 of the 3 Rough-Legged Buzzard that had been present for a couple of months. In fact 2 had been reported while we were at Flitcham. But the dipping theme of the day had followed us and only 2 Buzzard were seen. The best birds here were 3 Whooper Swan that flew west and a Grey Partridge.

Not wanting to waste too much time here we headed to Titchwell RSPB. On arrival it took numerous circuits of the car park to find a spot as it was so busy. Mostly with families not interested in birding or dog owners wanting to get to the beach! Chris and Ephraim headed into the reserve while Paul and I queued for what seemed like an eternity for some hot food and drink. Eventually we got onto some birding and straight away saw 2 Water Pipit and a Kingfisher. Numerous year ticks fell as we neared the beach with Marsh Harrier and Spotted Redshank seen. The sea was quieter than normal and didn't add anything other than Common Scoter. Back at the car we had a team meeting and decided to head to Thornham. Here we had a nice flock of 30 Twite near the car park which were a lifer for Ephraim. After a long walk we arrived on the beach as other birders were leaving but were told the 3 Shorelarks were still present. After walking around the beach we hadn't seen them but as we were about to go a couple walking their dogs told us they were just where I'd walked! Sure enough there they were and in the gloom we had good views. On the way back to the car I picked up a distant Barn Owl. An excellent day finished on 95 species and the rain held out till we were on the road home.

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