A spectacularly, sunny morning with easterly winds.
Bird of the day: Quail!
Met Eddie at 7am and as we walked along the west track, we could hear blackcaps singing. A Barn Owl flew east at the end of the track and a Cuckoo was calling. On the way out to East Hills we had spectacular views of 3 Spoonbills flying east. After crossing and leaping over the creeks and the wide one at the end with quick sands (just to keep you on your toes!), we arrived at the main dune ridge just after 8am. Had close views of a Short-eared Owl hunting over the marrams at 8.15am. We watched an amusing encounter - the short-eared owl dive-bombed something in the grass, which turned out to be a pheasant, who exploded into the air resulting in the two birds crashing with feathers flying!
As we started to walk through the first lot of pines, we were startled to see people camping, which is illegal to do here anyway! Further up in the flat grassy area, we were horrified to see what looked like tents collapsed, a small rowing type boat, full beer cans lying about and a huge pile of rubbish which included empty larger cans, party poppers, metal lighter fluid containers, cardboard, foil food trays and loads of general rubbish - all freshly dumped there - I was absolutely fuming. As Eddie said, if people are capable of carrying out all this stuff out here, then surely they can take their rubbish back!!! The whole scene somewhat spoilt everything really and I was hopping mad to say the least. Anyway we carried on through the sycamore glade, pines and brambles and only managed to rustle up 2 goldcrests, a single chiffchaff, 9 shelduck, goldfinches and a greenfinch. We sat at the west end overlooking Wells harbour and had a hot drink and snack. I then spent quite awhile and alot of phone battery finding out who to ring about these crappy people camping with all their rubbish. Holkham Estate Office wasn't answering, a couple of other people just had answerphones and I left messages, but I eventually got hold of a very helpful man (can't remember his name) at Wells Beach Cafe who sounded like he would speak to all the right people and get it/them sorted. Didn't see much else really on the way back. Eddie and I had walked seperately for a bit and he phoned me to say he could hear a Quail calling (10.30am) - I sped through the pines and past the rubbish heap to where Eddie was standing and listened to the wonderful calls of a Quail calling from the grassy/thrift area near the large dune ridge - it sounded so incredibly close! Our moment was spoiled slightly though by a man on the dune edge waving politely at us as we walked past. I just HAD to say something and asked if the larger cans were his - of course he replied that 'no they weren't theirs and he had noted how much rubbish there was about and how he was thinking about getting a large bag and collecting it all up' - yeah, right!!!!!!!! I then added that it was 'pretty disgusting leaving rubbish in a place like this.....' Eddie had walked on a bit further ahead of me at this point. After a pause I added 'did you know its illegal to camp here?' 'Yes' he replied and just stared at me. I was so annoyed, but didn't say anymore - didn't really want any serious confrontations out here, even with Eddie with me! At this point I wanted to go back and open all the cans of larger laying about, puncture the boat and slash the tents!!!! But my sensible head told me to let Holkham Estate sort them out! The weird thing is, I don't quite understand the boat being there - my detective head says they pinched the boat from Wells to carry all their gear with them - there is no way they would have been able to walk there with all that stuff, there were at least 4 Carlsburg cardboard cases strewn about and that was without all the other stuff! (saw them walk back later - see two paragraphs down.)
Eddie and I sat down in the grassy/flower area listening to this magical Quail calling so close to us, but we couldn't find it at all! We also watched the short-eared owl flying around us, unaware of our presence. We then retraced our steps through creeks and mud and back to the West Track where we bumped into Ashley M. and Richard M. Ashley had seen a Spotted Flycatcher in the small copse, but we weren't lucky enough to see it whilst there. Eddie spotted a green hairstreak on the alexanders.
We walked back to our cars, Eddie went home and I sat and sorted my gear out, had a coffee etc. In the distance I could see the four people that we had seen camping out on East Hills walking back the same way we had walked and they then continued towards Stiffkey Campsite direction - hmmm......Hope they don't return with more beer and rubbish!!!
PLEASE NOTE: Don't venture out to East Hills without being shown out by someone who goes out regularly, as the quick sands are dangerous – people have died out there. Also even before the tide comes back in, some of the creeks start to fill up, so if you've taken the wrong path, you've had it!
I decided to spend the rest of the day around Cley (should have stayed where I was!). So off I went to the Cley V.C. where I met Eddie for a cup of tea and we then heard news of a Rosefinch (brown job) just east of the cockle sheds at Wells. I gave Eddie a lift and off we went to Wells to dip, along with others on R.M's Rosefinch. Well, you can't see very bird can you! Spent quite a bit of time searching, but no luck! It was really cold now and the sun had disappeared. Did see a Red Kite and Marsh Harrier whilst here though! We left and decided to get some chips from Wells, but didn't even bother to park up when we saw the queues outside every chip shop along the front - tons of people everywhere!
Eddie and I walked the Warham west track again, just in case anything exciting had dropped in - it hadn't, but we did have 2 Spoonbills flying east at 7pm. Dropped Eddie back home. I do have a habit of birding 'til dusk, but was really tired now, so left in daylight, unusual for me!
Back at home, I spent the rest of the evening watching the Finale of 'The Voice'.
PICTURES TO BE ADDED
Main Highlights in Norfolk Today:
Woodchat Shrike at Winterton
Honey Buzzard at Swanton Novers
Rosefinch at Wells