Last night, the entire street (and beyond probably) were kept awake. Two doors down there was tons of noise. I don't know if they had been having a party or what, but there was shouting, arguing and loud voices and it went on and off for hours. I eventually got to sleep but was violently woken up again at 3.30am by a huge commotion – I jumped out of bed to look out of the window – lads were shouting outside and threatening to have a punch up, women were trying to stop it and basically people were talking and shouting like it was daytime. If I had had to go to work today, I would have been fuming. Eventually some people left and it was then 4.23am – I remember this time exactly and then got back into bed and was then really worried, as I had weird pains in my heart – probably the lack of sleep didn't help. OK, so it was probably a one off – as since next door's dog has gone, its generally, extremely peaceful here at nights. My early start had to be abandoned.
When I eventually crawled out of bed, I spent most of the day with my family. It was disgusting weather all day, rained for most of it and was torrential at times. Did some shopping for parent's, delivered, then returned to Hunstanton later, to get fish 'n' chips for them. My sister Vivien arrived to visit as well. We were chatting about all kinds of things and later when Father requested a cup of coffee I thought it was about 3.30pm, when I looked at my watch it said 5.20pm! I had no idea it had got that late. The skies suddently got brighter and the sun came out! Now....with an Icterine Warbler at Walsey Hills, there had to be something else to be found after all this rain we've had. My mind immediately thought of Burnham Overy Dunes. A few minutes later I said my goodbyes and I was off like the wind!
I felt quite excited and had a spring in my step – there had to be something there surely?! The light was beautiful as I pulled up in the layby along the A149. When I scanned the sea wall at Burnham Overy, I could only see a couple of people and no birders to be seen anywhere. This was it!!! As I walked along the track there were hirundines everywhere – Swifts, Swallows, Sand and House Martins filled the skies – a magical sight. Everything looked fresh and extra green after the rain. There were a couple of Goldfinches in the sallows just before the stile and a Hedgesparrow singing, but nothing more. A couple of Mute Swans were on the pool east of the seawall and there were Egyptian, Grey-lagged and Canada Geese with youngsters filing behind on the marsh, along with Woodpigeons, Starlings, Lapwings and a Cuckoo was heard. Three Little Terns were fishing in the dyke east of the sea wall which I found unusual, I have not seen them this far inland at Burnham Overy Dunes.
At the bushes at the end of the seawall I found absolutely nothing, which was massively disapointing – an icterine warbler could at least have put in an appearance! There were a few Linnets on the marsh. I was going to walk to Gun Hill, but the wind was quite strong, so decided the good bushes on the seaward side of the hill would be too windy to reveal any migrants, so changed plans and walked east through the dunes and to Holkham pines. The hollows would be sheltered and I might be in with a chance of finding something good. I did have a bit of excitement with 3 Wheatears on route, more Linnets, Meadow Pipits and a distant Marsh Harrier. At the 'Subalpine' hollow (locals will know where I mean) I got VERY excited.... a very pale, almost white in places warbler (possibly) shot from one bush into another. Heart racing.... I didn't take my eyes off where it went in. I only saw it for a nano of a second and to be honest it could have been anything!!! BUT my instinct told me it was something good – or was that my imagination, possibly, who knows! Anyway, whatever was, I didn't see it again. I saw another LBJ later but nothing else of note. It was quite weird being here alone – the last time was for the Citril Finch and tons of people! I worked hard to find something, up dunes, down dunes, struggling over the sand etc etc. Sat down to rest for 10 minutes and then at 7.50pm started to head back.
Two Grey Partridges nearly finished me off – I do wish they wouldn't explode from the ground like hand grenades when you're not expecting it! I saw another two further along, who flew off at a more respectable distance! I speak to so many visiting birders that say they never see Grey Partridges in Norfolk and have a real job finding them. Maybe I'm just lucky, I see them almost everytime I go out (showing off now). When I reached the 'apple tree' I peered in and waited patiently, but nothing appeared. A few more Linnets were seen, oh joy. Headed back along the seawall and bumped into a couple who had seen a Spoonbill fly over earlier. When I reached the pool, east of the path I spotted a Spoonbill 'spooning' in the water with the 2 Mute Swans I had seen earlier and there were now lots of Black-headed Gulls having a wash 'n' brush-up and a couple of Tufted Ducks. The Spoonbill looked beautiful against the dark blue water and the sun was still shining. A beautiful sunset developed, casting rays of shimmering orange light over the mudflats in the harbour. Redshanks and Oystercatchers were calling. I didn't hear the Bittern booming today, as I have done on my last few visits, but did just catch a few 'pinging' Bearded Tits calling briefly, which was nice.
Just before the stile at the end of the track there is a big sallow bush on your right-hand side, which is also just before the large oak tree behind the newish, short wooden fence. I could hear a Whitethroat... well I thought it was a whitethroat, but wanted to make sure, so moved closer to the bush and mimicked the same 'tacking' noise. The bird refused to show itself, I moved closer and closer until was I actually peering in the bush! It continued to 'tack'! As I did this another bird errupted from the sallow like an explosion.... it was a LITTLE OWL!!! It really made me jump! It flew off to my left and landed somewhere in the midst of the large oak tree! Wow! What a lovely surprise! I did have crazy thoughts about Scops Owl, I must admit, as I have never ever seen a Little Owl sitting in a sallow before! But you could imagine a Scops Owl doing that!!! BUT, when the owl flew it was plump bodied and wide wings and instinct said it was definitely a Little Owl. But it did make me think I can tell you! I couldn't find it in the Oak tree, but the light was poor now anyway.
After the excitement of the Little Owl, I thought that was it, but there was more to come! On reaching my car I saw two Marsh Harriers just west of me, so moved the car to a concrete pad area, just before Burnham Overy Staithe to see if I could get better views of them. I sat here for a good while just watching. There were so many things to see! There were hares in the field, two Grey Partridges just in front of me with cute baby bunnies. The antics of these bunnies were hilarious – I have never watched such funny bunnies! One of them sprinted across the concrete, deliberately splashing through a large puddle as he went. Another was tumbling over and chasing round in circles only inches from the Grey Partridge, who appeared very chilled and didn't take any notice whatsoever. The rabbit that had ran through the puddle then daringly charged at the Grey Partridge who then about turned and flew after the bunny, chasing it around the concrete – which looked so comical! The two Marsh Harriers then glided over the field, giving excellent views and then, suddenly a Muntjac deer appeared from around the hedge, right next to my car with her baby (cute or what!) just behind her! I had to keep really still in the car, whilst they gingerly walked past my car, across the road and into the field. I should have just sat here the entire time, instead of walking miles of sand dunes to look for rares that don't exist! Goodnight.
PICTURES TO BE ADDED