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Saturday, 1 June 2013

Extreme Birding,16 hours: Lynn, Lakenheath, Cley, East Hills & Cley!

 Eagle Owl, King's Lynn.

I was up and out of the house by 5am which is pretty early for me! It was dull, cloudy and very cold and stayed that way for most of the morning. I should never have written it was going to be 'Sun, Sun, Sun' all weekend in my post yesterday! I was contemplating about going to Cley this morning and walking Blakeney Point, but I could see what would happen if I did – all the good birds seen there yesterday, would have more than probably have cleared out (they had) over night, so I decided to opt for Lakenheath to see the Savi's Warbler instead – better late than never!

I decided to have a quick look for the fabulous Eagle Owl before I went to Lakenheath and found it straight away sitting on a roof top in Thomas Street, King's Lynn preening at 5.30am. Took some pictures, but light was awful and owl not facing me.

Lakenheath Fen RSPB
Arrived Lakenheath Fen RSPB around 6.30am. There were quite a few cars here already. I walked up to where some other birders were standing and I listened to at least two Grasshopper Warblers reeling. A couple of the birders here, were pretty convinced that the Savi's was also reeling and I must admit I also started to believe this, as this is not a bird I'm familiar with. I have heard that alot of people are seeing and listening to Grasshopper Warblers and believing they have seen and heard the Savi's Warbler. Also these birds are in very close proximity to each other. Anyway, further along the path there were a larger group of birders listening and watching the Savi's Warbler. As soon as you listen to this bird there is a distinct difference between the reels of this and Grasshopper Warbler – The 'reel' of the Savi's is much faster and stronger than that of Grasshopper Warbler, listening to them both this morning. There is no point whatsoever in me posting my 'record shot' of this bird – it is my worst to date: a brown smudge in the reed bed that could be anything at all! Also saw a Cuckoo whilst here, Whitethroats, Sedge and Reed Warblers, but sadly no sign or sound from the Golden Orioles. The light and weather was dire and it was really cold. Saw a couple of Cley birders here whom I saw later at Cley! Suddenly the pager bleeped up with 'Norfolk Red-spotted Bluethroat male singing Cley NWT west of East Bank in bushes 200 yards south of sluice at 7.20am'. Now even though I absolutely love Lakenheath Fen, I really hate leaving the Norfolk coast for this very reason. I must have sounded most unfeminine when I said 'b*llocks out loud, but sorry it had to be said. I know a bluethroat is not a mega, but I spend alot of time birding at Cley and it was most frustrating to be way down the map at this point to say the least! Obviously I then left! A further message came out on the pager to say the bluethroat was a White-spotted not Red-spotted, even better! The walk back to the car, seemed to take forever. Left at 8.45am.

Cley Reserves
The drive to Cley also seemed to take forever. I managed to overtake quite a few 'Sunday' drivers, but I eventually gave up when I found myself behind about 15 cars with a massive lorry in front of them all and guess what was in front of that, yep you've guessed, a bl**dy caravan cruising along with all the time in the world. On route I spoke to Eddie (hands free) who said I might as well park in the V.C. carpark, as there wouldn't be any spaces in the East Bank carpark, but I took the chance and got lucky with a single space left! I hurried along the bank as fast as I could and saw the White-spotted Bluethroat at 10.15am. Now considering I don't sometimes get of bed until this time, I wasn't doing too badly with Savi's Warbler and bluethroat in the bag, half way through the morning! The bluethroat was way out in the middle of the reed bed perched on an elder, west of the East Bank. I only saw it once and it wasn't a particular brilliant view in the dull light, even through a scope, but at least I had seen it. It didn't show again for ages, so I got there just in time. Lots of birders on the bank to chat with whilst waiting though, including some more blog readers! Oh and also nice to meet N.M.

Walsey Hills NOA. Had a good look round here, but didn't find anything of particular note.

Ate my sandwiches at Salthouse beach carpark whilst chatting with Eddie who had a nice looking piece of cake for his lunch – I had fruit, back on diet again now holiday's over – boring! John F. kindly phoned me with news of two fem. Pied Flycatchers at the West Track, Warham, so off I went to see them. The skies were brightening and the sun came blazing out for the rest of the day.

Warham Greens
Parked up on the concrete pad to find John, who informed me that he couldn't relocate the Pied Flys on his way back up the track. Now, after discussion with John about the fact that the bluethroat had arrived at Cley and that these pied flys were obviously new in, I decided that East Hills may well be worth the walk! J.M had walked it this morning and found nothing. I do wish sometimes that I didn't have these crazy notions that I might actually find something really good! Got all my gear ready and off I went. Along the West Track I didn't find any of John's Pied Flys.

The walk out to the hills was more slippery than normal, lots of water and the slimy mud was extra slippery, but unbelievably I didn't fall once, either on the way out or back – think that must be a first! The sun was fully out now and it was a beautiful walk out there, well kind of! M.A.G phoned with news of a third male Pied Flycatcher along the West track, along with a Honey Buzzard flying south later!

I worked so hard to find a bird, never mind a mega. A single Hedge Sparrow was my reward – you have to laugh I suppose! An added bonus (note sarcasm) were a few Curlew flying over and Wood Pigeons – exciting stuff. I had heard that Rob M. was on his way out to the 'hills' – I presume he didn't find anything much out here either. The beautiful lime green colours of the sycamore leaves looked so beautiful in the glorious afternoon sunlight and just needed a good bird to make the picture complete – but there was sadly no sight or sound.

Things did improve. As I left the dunes and walked across the beach, I had could see that there were quite a few ringed plovers on the seaward side of where I was walking (east of East Hills). I started to count them and couldn't quite believe it, when my final count became 90 Ringed Plovers – my biggest count of these ever I think – I believe that a good number of these were 'Tundra' as there were several smaller and generally darker birds, than the normal Ringed Plovers. There were also quite a few Dunlin mixed in with them!!! I really wished I had got my camera out of the bag and taken some pictures now, but I didn't want to take the risk, as the mud was pretty slippery where I was walking.

I also had a Spoonbill fly east just in front of me at 7.40pm whilst walking back (camera still in bag!). Back at the Warham Track I bumped into Mark B. and his wife who walked up the field side of the track along with another birder and myself to look for the Pied Flys. I deliberately left my camera in the bag, as this was a guaranteed way of seeing one of the Pied Flys! My strategy worked and we had a wonderful view of a fem. Pied Flycatcher sitting amongst white blossom at 8pm – it would have made a cracking picture. Got camera out of bag and didn't see it any more! Back at the concrete pad I felt so tired, I couldn't even be bothered to take my wellingtons off – they are slightly too small for me (size 4.5) and I have to battle to get them off every time. I was determined to see the White-spotted Bluethroat again in the sunshine, so I drove back to Cley.

East Bank, Cley NWT
Parked the car up and decided that the wellingtons had to come off. Walked along the East Bank to find Eddie with the Bluethroat in his scope! This magical little bird looked absolutely beautiful in the sunshine, with his blue chest puffed out,white spot and singing at 9pm! A much better view than I had this morning! Also a few Bearded Tits zipping about. What a wonderful end to my day. Got home late.

Only iphone pictures taken at East Hills. Can't quite believe I havn't got any decent pictures to add to my post today!

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