Woke up naturally at just after 5am - decided to have another few minutes and when I next looked at the clock it said 7.30am - BOTHER! Had intended on going out VERY early this morning... oh well!! By the time I got out of the house it was 9am. Absoutely stunning day - for the first time I did not wear my coat! Treated the car to a wash for £6 at Heacham and delivered shopping to my parents.
Father's physiotherapist had been to see him on Wednesday and had assisted him outside into the treacherous garden for the first time. Assisted father into his garden chair outside the house this morning - it was a lovely sight to see him sitting in the sunshine with shorts on, hat and his binoculars by his side.
A Great Grey Shrike had been caught and ringed at Holme Bird Observatory (courtesy of RBA). Presuming the shrike had gone I continued on to Titchwell for a short while before hitting Burnham Overy Dunes.
Titchwell produced Cettis Warbler singing in the carpark. Looked for the Lesser Whitethroat that someone had heard to no avail, but did hear a Blackcap and Willow Warbler singing away in the blackthorn, now in flower. Lots of Bees buzzing about today everywhere in the glorious sunshine and Robins sitting about looking pretty. Nothing on the ploughed field at the end of the carpark apart from a couple of red legged partridges and a kestrel - not a single wheatear either! A Common Buzzard went west over the Fen Trail at 11am Heard my first Sedge Warbler by the Island Hide at 11.45am and a pair of Red crested Pochard were by the far side of the brackish marsh. A very crisp male Reed Bunting sat in sueda along the main bank. Several Chiffchaffs flitting about in the trees opposite the first seat along the main bank. Also, Long tailed |tits and goldfinches near main carpark. Another Common Buzzard at 12.30pm over the carpark whilst munching on a sandwich. Saw Robin Abel in the carpark who told me the Great Grey Shrike was still on view at Holme.
I decided to go to Thornham Harbour and walk to see the shrike after a kind phonecall from Ray Roche telling me the shrike had bounded east over the Thornham Bank and he was viewing it in a suada bush from the first sharp corner of the bank. On parking the car I phoned Ray to see if it was still showing and was told it was a distant hazy smudge in the middle of the marsh...hmmmmmm.... ok Penny, you are not year listing, you don't NEED a distant smudge - keep to plan and go to Burnham Overy!!! There were 7 Black tailed godwits feeding away in the chanel by the coal barn. Got back in car and continued along coast road to park at Burnham Over Staithe (now 2pm).
Parked the car off the road about quarter of a mile past the Hero Pub on left hand side and followed the track down that joins with the Burnham Overy Staithe main public footpath. I passed a birder not long after starting my walk - I wish now I had asked him if he had seen anything as I saw very little for all my effort! Birds seen: lapwings displaying, greylags, brent geese, redshanks, Little Egret, carrion crows, cormorants flying over, Cettis' Warbler singing and Bearded Tits 'pinging'. On reaching Gun Hill area I decided to sit the other side on the edge of dune to have a cup of tea and sandwich - from this point I could see the beach, Scolt Head and Burnham Overy Staithe - it was a beautiful day, it felt like summer! As I sat there I realised 3 children were playing on a sandbank in the middle of the channel!!! One girl (the tallest and possible eldest about 13, 14?) and 2 boys, one approx 12ish and the other 10ish were making sandcastles, digging holes, generally messing about and having fun, totally oblivious to the incoming tide!!!! I didn't know what to do to begin with - where were their parents? How had they got there in the first place? Had an adult with boat dropped them off and had intended in picking them up later? Who knows? Other people were walking about and no one seemed to take any notice, BUT my common sense and instinct told me not leave this area without ringing somone! What if I hadn't and then I heard on the news tonight about 3 children that had been cut off and drowned - I would have lived with that forever! Rang Pat initially at Holme NWT to ask for Coastguards local number and in the end I ended up ringing 999 (3.11pm) and spoke to a coastguard/switchboard operator who after giving full description of the children etc etc, said they would send the lifeboat out immediately. As I explained to the coastguard the sandbank was shrinking rapidly and the tide was due at 4.30pmish. The coastguard asked me to ring them again when/if I left the area to give them an update if the lifeboat had not reached them. Anyway, time passed and the sandbank continued to shrink - 2 small motorised boats could then be seen, that had come from Burnham Overy Staithe - the first boat; a man with his partner and child shouted across to the children 'Can you swim?' (I could just about hear this and the reply the children gave back) The eldest boy shouted back 'Yes' - we're swimming back, we've done it before'!!!!!!!! Their answer horrified me!!! I wouldn't have been happy seeing a fit, athletic adult swim across that channel, never mind 3 children!!!! Phoned the coastguard back again and updated him with the conversation and he agreed that it would have been a crazy thing to attempt - 'the lifeboat would be there in minutes now'. The sandbank had now disappeared and with the water at the children's feet they proceeded to wade through the channel and got to waist height when the lifeboat turned up at 4pm and picked them up. I hope they got a stern telling off from the crew! The switchboard coastguard kindly phoned me back to say they had been picked up (already seen this) and that their parents were not rung because the children said their parents would not be worried as they were 'used to them doing this sort of thing'!!!!!!!! I think they SHOULD have been rung - I had been VERY worried! If anyone reading this blog does know these children, please let their parents know what a dangerous situation they were in: the girl was black (skin colour) and had medium curly length hair in a pony tail. The eldest boy (white) had blonde hair and the youngest boy (white) had short brown hair. They were all wearing shorts and tea-shirts.
Anyway, back to birding. My plan was to walk to through the dunes and on through Holkham Pines and Lady Anne's to catch the coastliner from the Victoria back to my car. (This will be my new route to avoid paying £5 to park in the new ticket machines in Lady Anne's Drive!) My walk produced very little, in fact all I saw were a handful of linnets! The best thing I found was a Sand Wasp I found scurrying about just before Holkham Pines. Couple of chiffchaffs by the gate at the beginning of the main path through the pines and a Marsh Harrier. On reaching Joe Jordans Hide, I decided to change my route - I followed the path that diverted off left from the hide and followed the track all the way up to the road - nothing particularly special on route... a couple of chiffys, egyptian geese, greylags, little egret oh and a barn owl, climbed over a 5-bar wooden gate, crossed the road and stood by the entrance to Holkham Park's church and had about 2 minutes to spare before the 5.47pm Coastliner turned up! Had a cup of coffee back at my car and then continued along the coast road.
Just after Stiffkey I parked the car by the gate (which says 'no parking') known as 'White Bridges' just after the track/bridge to Stiffkey Fen and stood for ages trying to photograph fish leaping out of the water to catch midges - it was fascinating to watch and I did manage to get ONE out of focus picture - it was a miracle I got one at all! In the picture I could see purple markings on the side of the fish - anyone any ideas what they were please? Also saw a barn owl and a marsh harrier here.
House on the Hill, Blakeney - not much here, apart from chaffinches, great tit, blue tit and jackdaws.
Coastguards, Cley - only came here to watch the sun setting and to be by the sea. A family had lit a fire/barbecue about 50 yards from the carpark, on route to North Hide - what do they think this is - a seaside resort!!! Barn Owl along beach road.
Walsey Hills - walked up to the top of the steps and in the last glimmers of light watched a heron flying lazily across East Bank. Greylags squabbling loudly in the Snipe's Marsh and a Cettis Warbler singing.
Went home via Salthouse and had vege burger and chips at Holt in the car.