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Sunday, 9 November 2014

Desert Wheatears in Norfolk & Suffolk!!!

 DESERT WHEATEAR
First Winter Female at Gorleston, Norfolk 

I had not been very well at all yesterday, which had ruined half of my weekend, but I was determined to make up for it today. I thought I had set my alarm last night, but woke up to find my phone on the duvet and the clock read 7.30am. 7.30am was supposed to be my arrival time at Lowestoft, not the time I woke up!!! Got into action quickly, to get on the road. Plan for the day was to see both Desert Wheatears and a Humpback Whale!

No news on the pager about either the Desert Wheatear at Gorleston or the Lowestoft bird, so asked RBA to put out a 'no news' message. If the bird is there, it works every time! A few minutes after the no news message went out, the Gorleston bird appeared on the pager as still there. The Lowestoft bird appeared later at 10.20am.

It was lashing down with rain as I drove along the A47 this morning and there was alot of water in places along the road.
DESERT WHEATEAR
First Winter Male at Lowestoft, Suffolk
It wasn't until after I had left Lowestoft that I discovered that my ISO had been set on 1600 for every shot I took – no idea why I didn't check that, which then resulted in grainy and over exposed shots which I have attempted to rescue!


Lowestoft, Suffolk
I arrived at Links Road car park, Lowestoft to find that the Desert Wheatear was much further south along the sea wall, opposite the 'net posts', which is next to the Bird's Eye Factory and the wind turbine at Ness Point. With assistance from Andy W. (via phone) I re-located to park next to the net posts. What a fabulous area for birding! I walked across the grassy field to the sea wall. I could see the Desert Wheatear hopping along the sea wall before I got there! As I neared the concrete slope I could see a lady jogger making her way along the sea wall. I managed to get a couple of photos, but then as the jogger neared the bird, it flew a short distance along the wall and then as she neared again, it flew off high and landed on the roof of the Bird's Eye Factory! I heard someone say 'well done' in a sarcastic voice and presumed this was aimed at the jogger, but found out a couple of minutes later via another birder who had been standing next to me, that it had been directed at us! The man standing next to me said 'did you know that we were blamed for that?'. Now, if the person that had said that, did not see the jogger and what happened, then they need to go either back to birding school, or Specsavers or possibly both!!! Anyway, the Desert Wheatear shortly returned to land directly in front of me! Lovely! What a fabulous bird and the sun was out too, what more could you ask for! I spent quite a while photographing this stunning little bird. Ben Moyes and his father were also here. Lots of people walking dogs – some the wheatear seemed alarmed by and some it wasn't bothered by at all. I could have easily stayed here for the rest of the day, a beautiful spot.

Drove south a short distance to the Wind Turbine at Ness Point. Watched a 1w Red-backed Shrike in the compound with Greenfinches distantly, which was an unexpected bonus. There was a Black Redstart here too, but I didn't see this. Parked by the sea and walked along the sea wall to look for Purple Sandpipers and managed to find one on the rocks near a fisherman – fabulous to watch, but a bit too distant for photography. It was beautiful here, waves crashing onto huge, seaweed covered rocks with blue skies and sunshine – good for the soul. Bumped into Jon Evans here and a birder that had travelled from a long way north for both Desert Wheatears. Back at the car I had a quick cup of coffee and a sandwich and left to return to Norfolk!
Taken through the gap in the fence of the boat yard!

After sunset the amusement arcade lights make the back drop
for my last shots of the evening.
DESERT WHEATEAR
First Winter Female at Gorleston, Norfolk

Gorleston, Norfolk
Parked up by the Pavilion Theatre – free parking, always good! It was really weird being here and seeing the 'Ocean Rooms' which were once a brilliant nightclub I used to go to when I lived here. I lived in Gorleston in my second year at Great Yarmouth Art College. For some strange reason, I have always remembered the address, it was a bedsit at 15 Avondale Road and cost me £15.00 a week – there are stories to tell about the other tenants that lived in that place I can tell you!

I started walking along the promenade and could see a handful of photographers in the distant by the third shelter where the Desert Wheatear was mean't to be, but they didn't seem to be watching anything! That's because the bird had flown high across the beach and beyond where I had parked according to Phil Heath and friend who I then bumped into. Oh dear! I turned back and walked with Phil and a few other birders to try and re-locate the wheatear. I walked along the jetty area where people were fishing and then suddenly some birders had spotted the Desert Wheatear through a fence in an enclosed boat yard! I had to smile – birders trying to find the biggest gaps between the fence panels to peak through, in hope of a glimpse of this bird. Eventually I saw it, sitting inches from me in an old boat just below me through the fence! It then perched up a bit higher and I managed to get a really close picture of it through the gap! I didn't see it fly, but a little while later it flew back to the beach and headed slowly back to its favoured spot on the beach, opposite the third shelter. News of the Humpback Whale came up on the pager again, but it was too late in the day to get to Cart Gap before dusk, so will dedicate next weekend to whale watching I think!

There were lots of people on the beach with dogs bounding around – sadly you had be careful where you walked. One lady's dog went for the wheatear big time and chased it round – I really thought for one scary moment that it was going to catch it too – the lady was not even aware, when Rob asked her to keep her dog under control. I spent a long time here, carefully crouched down, along with Jill and Rob Wilson photographing my second Desert Wheatear of the day! It was nice to see that families walking along the promenade seemed really interested in what we were photographing, what the bird was and where it had come from. My best picture was when everyone else had gone – it was dusk and the wheatear had perched on one of the posts on the beach and I managed to photograph it with a round orange light behind its head and although not the sharpest shot I have taken today, it looked really atmospheric, very pleased with that picture indeed. The bird was still feeding on the beach at 4.25pm as I left.

Made my way back along the promenade and was very tempted by the fish 'n' chip shop, good job I had no cash on me! It was a long drive back to King's Lynn and I collapsed on the sofa as soon as I got in. Well, today certainly made up for yesterday – lots of pictures to sort through now!

MORE PICTURES TO BE ADDED

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