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Monday 21 April 2014

Hoopoe at Thornham!

Kindly taken by Matt Mulvey with my camera,
as I wasn't tall enough to see over the wall!
Cropped and edited in photoshop by me though!

This virus is getting boring now, still felt ill this morning, but was determined to go out birding. Because of replying to emails last night (shouldn't have done), but some were important and because of this, I didn't get to bed as early as I hoped – and then couldn't get up early this morning!

I was on my way to walk Blakeney Point. Yep, that may sound a crazy idea when I have been unwell, but I decided that I wanted to find a mega in one of my favourite places. After all, no one else has found any this Easter weekend! The pager bleeped up with 'HOOPOE' at Thornham!!! Now, I know its no mega, but Hoopoe's are always fabulous to see and we don't get that many in Norfolk – probably because most are shot in Malta (see important link HERE). So off I whizz to Thornham.

Directions for anyone looking tomorrow: driving through Thornham with the shop/village hall on your right hand side, take the first road right which is 'Ringstead Road'. Park on verge 'up the road' (Norfolk dialect!) and walk right, along the farm track (just after posh housing estate!). Walk along this farm track until you can view a large grassy field on your right hand side. In the far left corner of this field (by children's sand pit/play area) is where the Hoopoe was first found this morning at 8am by a lady, non-birder/holiday-maker who is staying in a cottage only yards away from where she found the Hoopoe, so congratulations to her! She phoned her sighting through (later) to Titchwell RSPB and someone from there (I believe) checked it out later in the morning.

I first saw the Hoopoe at 12.12pm and it was still in the far corner of the field. Fabulous bird and cheered up the day for many birders I think, with lack of 'rares' around Norfolk this weekend. It was however distant through my lens and Steve G. said it didn't look exactly brilliant through his lens either – just to give you an idea of distance! We could have moved closer, afterall a family with dog walked across the field and it wasn't bothered at all. There were many familiar faces here including R.M., Dave Holman and wife, Steve and Sue G., Connor R., James & Simeon, David N., Julian Bhalerao, Mike Sidwell, John F., Dave, Mark Bradbury and wife, Sue B., Ken Reeves..... to name but a few! Oh and it was really nice to see Rob and Ann Gordon who I have not seen for ages. My pictures were all 'record shots' and fuzzy – I did get lucky though when for a momens only, the Hoopoe displayed his crest out in full – wonderful!
Hoopoe in the far corner of the field, Thornham.

Later the Hoopoe decided to bomb over the fence into the gardens adjacent to the A149. I walked round to the main road and peered through a wrought iron garden gate which had a very neat lawn and hedges. A man walked across the road and asked 'Can I help you?' This man turned out to be the owner of the property (The Red House) and seemed really interested when I told him all about the Hoopoe. He very kindly escorted me into his garden to search for the Hoopoe. I was so excited about getting a full frame shot of this bird! We crept round all the hedges and lawns but no sign. Approximately 10 minutes after this, a message came up on the pager that the Hoopoe had appeared again in the corner of the field – I reckon we flushed it back over there, just a guess! It went missing again later on.

I left here and drove my car along 'Ship Lane' (with the Lifeboat Inn on my right) and as I did I found a Ring Ouzel in a field just past the Inn on the left hand side – only got a rubbish picture of it, which isn't worth posting, but a nice find. R.M. was only yards away, so I let him know it was here, he just saw it before it dived in the hedge. I parked my car along 'The Green' in Thornham and followed the footpath that runs west through the reedbeds and pools. Birds seen here were: my first Swift of the year, Jay, Long-tailed Tit, Robin, Goldfinches, a Greenfinch, a few Jackdaws and a single Chiffchaff.
Hoopoe sitting on a garden wall – pity about the branch!

I went back to look for the Hoopoe. It was not in the corner of the field, so I walked round to the main road again. A birder had re-located the Hoopoe in the same garden I had been into earlier on (with owner). There it was sitting on the lawn by a greenhouse! But there was one big problem – to see this bird, I had to stand on a tree stump and jump to view over the high wall!!! There was no way I could photograph it, not tall enough – I was cursing! But Matt Mulvey (Midlands birder) who was considerably taller than me, took tons of pictures with my camera for me – which was really kind of him and I am very grateful. He got some decent shots too, so a massive thank you if you are reading this! I phoned the news out to RBA, as there were birders round by the field that had not seen this bird yet. By this time, the owner had appeared again with his wife and was unbelievably helpful and bought a ladder round to put up the wall, so people could look over!!! Because I had seen the bird, I didn't join the queue for the ladder (sounds funny doesn't it!), but I wish I had, then I could have taken pictures by me! The Hoopoe then moved to a different part of the garden (so people thought) and some thought it had maybe flown back to the corner of the field, so most people left. The owner of the property kindly let me go in the garden again (escorted) and we found the Hoopoe sitting on a stone wall at 5.44pm!!! It looked so beautiful. But my picture was ruined by a big branch going right through the bird! It flew into an apple tree and then towards an adjacent garden – I didn't see it any more after that!

Left Thornham and drove home via Ringstead to look on the fields for Dotterel. Found a Marsh Harrier, but nothing else of note. Very, very cold this evening.

If the couple who live at 'The Red House' are reading this, please email me and I will send you a picture of your garden Hoopoe! The same goes to the lady who found the Hoopoe.


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