Sunday, 12 June 2011
Red-footed Falcon (tick) Marsh Warbler (dip)
A glorious day of sunshine AND rain!!!
Started off at Walsey Hills NOA, Cley to find only bees! No birds of note whatsoever. Attempted to take arty farty pictures of the wheat crop wavering in the sunshine. I found it very odd that I did not see a single butterfly! Went to NWT visitor centre for loo stop only. Chatted with Eddie M. briefly in the carpark. I then decided to go to Beeston Common to photograph dragonflies etc before walking Blakeney Point this afternoon. I parked up at Sheringham Cemetery to have my lunch. News of a male Red-footed Falcon at Hickling changed my plans!
NWT Hickling Broad Nature Reserve
Its been a while since I have been to this reserve and surprised myself in not getting lost on route! Now lightly spitting with rain. Walked through the visitor centre to 'Cadbury Hide' and then turned left to stand by an open gate overlooking a large area of marsh. Dave Holman kindly allowed me to look through his scope as soon as I turned up - thanks! A stunning RED-FOOTED FALCON sitting on a fence - wow! It was worth the drive. Mike (Mike and Jacky) and a few others also here. Norfolk Hawker also pointed out by Dave H. The Red foot's favourite perch was a gate to the far right, which resulted in a smudgy record blob on my camera - Mike said 'I knew you would laugh after taking that' I replied 'I knew I was going to laugh, before I that!!!!!' The bird occasionally perched on a small square cattle pen to the left of us, which I noticed was alot closer to the track the other side of the marsh where people were walking along. The area of marsh is NOT allowed to be walked on, even though the gate is non-existent. The route you are allowed to walk is clearly marked - BUT one lady with a camera started to walk into this area until I said with raised voice, 'you are not allowed to walk through there' - her answer was 'I want to get a better picture'!!!!!!!!!! (don't we all, but not if it means unnecessary disturbance AND trespassing!) If she had carried on walking, she would have definately disturbed this bird - all she needed to do was go round to the trail back where she came, round the wood and onto the official path the other side - which is what I then did - but some people can't be bothered!!!
Round the 'other side' I sat on a pile of stinging nettles by the corner of the 5-bar gate (dead opposite the square cattle fence) and waited by myself. A few other birders were standing about 30 yards from me along the track. The light was much better from this side. I decided I wasn't going to move, until the bird moved to the square fence in front of me, however long it took! The falcon did not budge from the furthest gate (now on my far left) for an hour and a quarter! Whilst waiting, I met a lovely couple from Lowestoft who 'read my blog every day' - thanks!!! They were trying to weedle several secrets from me - with no success whatsoever!!!!!! (nice to meet you). I had serious pins and needles now, having sat in this position for so long and was also trying to keep the camera dry under my coat from the now steady rain. R.M. and M.G. were on the other side of the marsh, where I had been earlier. Steve and Sue G. turned up with daddy lenses!!!!! At last the Red-footed Falcon moved and after hoovering and having a fly round catching a couple of dragonflies it landed on the square cattle fence which was in line with me! My patience paid off. Quite pleased with the shots I got really, considering the distance - used my new Canon 1.4 Mark III converter with the 300mm lens. Two male birders turned up shortly before I left and one of them gave me a £2 coin as he said he pinched one of my photos from RBA - very nice of him, thanks! Walked back to carpark and thanked the young lady in the visitor centre for her earlier directions. A peacock was strutting about in the carpark from a nearby animal rescue centre.
I think I arrived here via the longest route possible and I am not going to confess which villages I passed through! Paid a pound to park in the carpark next to the beach cafe. Walked though the valley below the Hermanus Restaurant and walked south - tagged along with another birder who also had no idea where the bird was exactly, apart from the same pager information that I had. Met a birder on route who had seen the bird a short while ago and said it was approx 25 yards right of the 'black' public steps. 'Black 'my ass!!!!!!!!! After walking a long way past all the sets of steps up to properties (cos we were looking for 'black'), we walked back to the set of steps which were light brown colour and the only public steps, according to a very helpful local couple. Quite heavy rain now, and starting to feel cold. We stood in the bracken and waited and waited etc and nothing. Give up Penny, go home. Only other birds seen here were linnets, magpies and a few common whitethroats. Back at the car I realised the rain had gone through my Paramo light rain mac and my shirt underneath was also wet. I was very pleased I had a spare fleece in the back of the car! Had to leave the carpark straight away as they wanted to close the carpark at 7pm, so moved down the road a little way and pulled onto the verge that says 'NO PARKING ON VERGE' - well it was only for a short while, just to have a coffee and look at map. A police car cruised slowly past me and stared at me intently. I left very promptly and was through the village of Winterton by the time that police car had turned round in the carpark to come back after me!!!!!!!!! I stubbornly wanted to drive the scenic way home, even though it was late and pouring with rain - how crazy is that! Stopped on a corner pull-in at Waxham (where I parked to see the Red flanked Bluetail last year) and had another coffee. Continued following the coast road. Sat in the car and watched the gulls at Walcott - I love this spot! I also turned off down the beach at Overstrand and to the beach carpark - what a lovely spot - one of the few places along the coast I havn't been to - very impressive, with lots of clifftop scrub and pines! Must go back there sometime. At Cromer I took the A148 back to King's Lynn and stopped once for a 15 minute snooze and coffee. Rain all the way home. Arrived back at 9.40pm.