Saturday, 18 June 2011
CASPIAN TERN - STONKING VIEWS!!!
I was absolutely determined to be at Thornham Harbour early however I felt. Got up just after 3.30am and got soaked by my hedge and overgrown front garden that needs cutting, even before I set off! Raining steadily. Arrived at Thornham Harbour at 4.50am to find one other birder there - I think it was Gary White. I'll be honest, it was raining so heavily when I first arrived, I stayed in the car for about 15 minutes! The rain on my car window seemed to sound less intense after a while, so I got out. Looked all around the boat house and creeks as not sure exactly where the tern was seen to roost last night. Joined Gary to scope the sand banks. Gary had seen gannets going past and a little gull. Later Connor and Billy turned up. But no one else was here - all in bed waiting on news I expect! Anyway Connor, Billy and I stood along the sea bank over the sluice, by the first left hand bend as the ground is higher here. After a short while Billy (well done!) went off along the sea wall and searched Holme beach area and scanned all the gully's etc, that we could not see into this side. Connor's enthusiasm kept me going. It was bitterly cold and the rain was lashing down. I had a waterproof coat (no hood) and trousers but after a short while my hair was dripping wet. I had washed it earlier and come out with it wet, so I couldn't really put a hat on anyway. I nearly gave up I was so cold now. Connor saw a Hobby going west, but I didn't pick up it up in time. Billy phoned us to say he couldn't see any sign of it. I noticed that a group of birders had turned up in the carpark. Not long after they turned up I heard some shouting to alert us they could see the Caspian Tern at 7.15am. Connor and I desperately tried to pick it up from where we were standing but failed, so sprinted round to the carpark to where the others were standing. The man who had picked it up was Alan Davies, last night's finder! Now everything was falling into place. I recognised Alan from yesterday at Horsey and then noticed the logo on the side of his car 'The Biggest Twitch' as in Alan Davies and Ruth Miller!!!!!! I didn't click yesterday who I had been chatting to and I had photographed them both with David Lindo at the Birdfair last year! Alan not only refound it this morning but he then quickly came across to me and set my scope up on it - THANK YOU! We watched the Tern standing majestically on the sand alone for approx. 3 minutes before it flew off west towards Holme. I was soooo pleased my early start had paid off - early bird catches the worm and all that! The very high tide was now trickling over the road and I left quickly. My car and sea water don't mix at all!
I went to the village shop at Thornham. Well its not a shop really - its a shop for people with big bank balances who want to pay extortionate prices for food, but it does sell newspapers - picked up my parent's Saturday papers and delivered them to Holme. Father was then going out in the rain with a mac to empty the moth trap. I didn't go in, as I was dripping from head to foot. Parked at the toilet block at Holme as Garry H. had picked up the tern in the gull roost from the main beach gap at 8am. I sent texts to RBA throughout of all sightings/news of the CT. When I reached the beach gap, Mark B. and Andy B. etc who were there said the tern had already gone east again! Hmmmmm..... decided to drive down the Firs Road and parked on the NOA carpark. Checked Redwell Marsh Hide scrape along with Ray and David Roche and also the 'Saltings' on route. A Grasshopper Warbler was 'reeling' in the NOA carpark. Was just setting off to walk to Holme beach/Thornham Harbour, when I thought I had just better check RBA again on my phone to read the message that the Caspian Tern was flying over the first pool at Titchwell at 9.20am! I expected this really I suppose. It was now 9.50am. Placed bins/camera (Threw) in car and hurtled down the Firs Road - not a road you want to be hurtling along at all! After overtaking a 'Sunday' driver by the Farm shop at Thornham I decked my car in the public parking area (left of the staff carpark) to save a bit of time. Grabbed camera and ran along main path to join a good number of birders already enjoying spectacular (today someone said I need to use a different word to 'awesome' on my blog, so today its 'spectacular') views of the CASPIAN TERN flying over the pool and fishing at approx 10.15am. It did attempt to catch a large fish which it then dropped! Looking through my pictures later I actually caught this on camera, which I hadn't realised at the time. The sun was now out and felt alot warmer than earlier! Thanks to Mike and Jacky who alerted me to the fact that I needed to stand further right to get closer/better pictures of the tern and this was where Steve G. was standing, so obviously was in the best place now! Every now and again the tern was flying over the reed bed to give awe... spectacular views. My first Caspian Tern was at Welney, but this one was much closer views and is also now on my Holme and Titchwell list! (If a bird is on the west side of the channel at Thornham Harbour its in the Holme parish) The Caspian Tern then flew north over the marsh and then west along the dune ridge to 'Thornham Point' and out of sight at 10.53am. I decided to walk to 'Thornham Point' just in case it had landed somewhere. Having only had a marmalade roll since my early start, I was now pretty hungry. Survived on Werthers until lunch time! Passed Andy Stoddart on route! Beautiful walk up to 'Thornham Point' but no sign of the tern. Tons of razor shells up here. A few linnets in the sea-buckthorn and a hedge sparrow, but little else. The tern was seen later again at Holme apparently, going west over 'Gore Point 'at 12.10pm (this was to be the last sighting). As I started to walk back, the rain came down again and my now dried out coat got wet again! Back onto the Titchwell main bank I had brilliant views of a Common Tern fishing right in front of me which had the camera firing off again! Bumped into several other people, who sadly had not quite made it in time for the tern. Several Cley birders here - with all these elite birders about, I was greedily hoping a rare wader would be found aswell! Joined Pete S., John F., Eddie M., and Andy J. for lunch in the visitor centre which was lovely and we had timed it just right, as the rain came down again and we got the last table in the 'feeding station'. We sat here for quite a while chatting and then went back to the reserve. Wonderful views of a bittern flying west over the main path to the far end of the pool in the reed bed. Very stormy skies produced lots of hirundines fly catching. A red-crested pochard was also on the pool. Went back to the visitor centre for an ice-cream, sat with Eddie, Andy and Pete under a brollied table in the rain! I then went for a snooze in my car for an hour, whilst the others went back onto reserve. At 6.30pm I had a coffee and walked back along the main bank - just made it to the Island Hide before it tipped it down again. Watched a bittern flying across the path again! Eddie and Andy in here looking for the Tern to drop in. 4 Marsh harriers were seen. I counted at least 119 Black tailed Godwits, 3 Little Gulls. Eddie saw a Spoonbill distantly flying east. 4 knot were seen and usual other waders, avocets, sandwich and common terns etc etc. Walked back to car and then went to Thornham Harbour to join Eddie, Andy and Andy B. to scan the gull/tern roost. Eddie found a med gull, but no sign sadly of the Caspian Tern by 9pm. Andy B. said that Robert W. had had a Firecrest and a Marsh Tit in the pine tree opposite the NWT pay hut at Holme today! High tide started to trickle over the road again, so time to go!
I feel like I have been up for 24 hours!!!!!