I don't know where to begin really!!!
I didn't get home until just before 10pm and feel completely drained!
Arrived here at 5.45am (yep thats early for me!). An absolutely beautiful morning. One other birder on site before me, who had not found the Red-spotted Bluethroat and sadly neither did I. I have fallen in love with West Runton. I so need to move up this end of the coast! Loads of common whitethroats in the brambles, house sparrows, goldfinches and linnets sitting on the fence wires. In the rough field adjacent to the barley field (could be wheat, really should know this being a Norfolk 'gal'!) meadow pipits and skylarks were feeding. Loads of hirundines going through. The other birder left to go and look in the ditch were the bluethroat had been seen yesterday morning. I had wonderful views of a hobby flying across me going west at 5.55am. Walked down to the beach and watched sand martins hurtling through, against bright blue skies and sandy cliffs. A lone meadow pipit sitting at the top of the cliffs calling (see pic). Photographed some bright yellow flowers growing against the cliffs - not sure what they are. The sea looked beautiful and there was no one here but me - magical. Sandwich terns were fishing and a cormorant sat on a post. I gave up attempting to photograph sand martins, they were just too fast! Public loos down here too - very handy! Also a cafe, but don't know when this opens.
Walked back up the top of the cliffs and walked along the top path east. I got as far as the 'pig farm' - one of John F.'s favourite spots for finding rares! This derelict farm has sadly been purchased and is being built upon and modernised. Anyway, whilst standing looking over in the pig farm direction with my back to the sea, a bird suddenly came into view from the left (east) flying lowish (tree height), roughly along the route of the main road - The first thing I remember is seeing slaty/blue wings with back outer edge to the wings and rusty brown back when it turned - crow like in flight - steady wing beat, although, it did seem to rock side to side a couple of times, if that makes sense! It carried on over a white house with slate roof and then over a house (the only one like this) with green, wooden shutters and then flew in to the right and behind this house into what looked like the golfcourse/pines below Inkleborough Hill!!! The whole event was over in a matter of seconds. I was completely shocked and said 'oh my god' several times out loud afterwards when I realised, that the only thing that this bird could have been was a ROLLER!!!!!! What makes me SERIOUSLY cross is - I had my camera in my hand!!!! But it took at least half of the time I watched it, for it to sink in and didn't dare put my bins down for a second in case I lost track of where it was. I wanted to know where it was going to land! I didn't phone RBA straight away - because I didn't quite believe myself AND I wanted to go and find it again and hopefully get a picture aswell. Walked back down to the carpark to join David and Trevor and told them about my sighting. Left here and parked the car at East Runton and walked all along the bottom of Inkleborough Hill to search for the roller. I even accousted the golfers and asked them if they had seen my roller! They didn't even know what one was - so had to describe the bird to them! I didn't walk to the top of the hill, instead I carried on past the gate that climbs the hill and continued to the end of the golf course, past the Links Hotel and sat for 5 minutes by 'West Runton Retting Pond' which was 'created in the 16th century'. It was now 9.55am. I felt really fed up now. This is a massive area to cover, it could be anywhere or moved on already. I scanned all bushes, trees, fences and telegraph wires etc everywhere I went. I walked past some allotments, over the railway line (never been here, very pretty spot) and then turned right along the main road. When I got to a long line of tall pines with a farm gate in the middle which didn't say it was 'private' - I walked through this gate along a track adjacent to the golf course and quite near the area where I thought it dropped in, but nothing. Stopped at the village shop and was very kindly given loads of large egg trays for father's moth trap. Continued my walk back to the car. Phoned RBA and asked them to put the news out as 'probable' - I don't know why really - I just simply didn't believe it!!! But it can't be anything else! I seriously hope this roller touches down somewhere else in Norfolk or better still relocated in the same area! I note also that one has turned up on 'Mull' today aswell. Could this bird have been the Suffolk one I wonder or a different one?! I would love to have added to this post 'Roller pictures to be added' - well no I wouldn't have put that - I would have added them straight away!!!
Where the ROLLER dropped in - to the right of the green shuttered
house and behind the railway track.
West Runton Railway Station. (iphone)
house and behind the railway track.
West Runton Railway Station. (iphone)
Trimmingham Cliff top Wood.
Now spitting with rain at 1pm. Only birds in here were a chiffchaff and a couple of common whitethroats by the cliff edge.
2pm - chips with the gulls - well I had a lot more than the gulls!!!
Free carpark down the track off the sharp corner to dunes. Now dull and raining steadily. A couple that had just come back from The Nelson's pub for their lunch had seen the Red-footed Falcon sitting in a tree along the track to the pub. The couple also said how much they enjoyed reading my blog - thanks! I walked through the gate (right of the carpark) and followed the obvious track/path along with two other birders who had already been here this morning and not seen the bird. For the first time this year I saw three Stonechats together - two stonking males and a female. We had distant views to begin with of the bird sitting on post right out in the middle of the marsh. I decided to walk up the track to the pub in case there was a second bird - this was an excellent move! The bird we had watched on the post now moved to the path where I was, sitting on posts, catching dragonflies. the aerobatics of this bird was just awesome. I had one of those very special moments in life that you don't ever forget. The red footed falcon then landed in a low tree fairly close to me. I moved step by step, really slowly and ended up 10 feet away with the most incredible views of this stunning bird. Obviously I also got close photos too! BUT the light was the wrong side and it was raining - if the light had been different - those pictures would have been a different story! Pics still alot better than my Hickling shots though! I sat down alongside the fence for quite a while just watching this bird hawking round and landing on posts - magical to watch. I was now absolutely soaked and cold. If the weather had been nicer I could have sat around here for hours.
Drove back to West Runton stopping at the shop in the village to buy some naughty food. The heavens opened - the rain was so heavy it felt like the car was going to cave in! I closed my eyes for 40 winks! Consumed 'naughty food' Got out of car - felt considerably colder, but sun now out again, which obviously resulted in rainbow over the sea. Met Ian Prentice who is a local birder here and described my roller sighting to him. Another hobby flew through. Lots of hirundines along the cliff top. Still very busy here with birds, same as this morning but added greenfinch to the list as well now. Wonderful sunset shimmering over the sea.