Sunset at Frampton Marsh RSPB
I don't even feel like writing to be honest, so will keep it short (ish)! I had to deliver Mother's shopping this morning, before I did anything else. I had loaded the car up and was just pulling out of the drive, when the pager bleeped up with "BLACK-WINGED STILTS x 2 at Frampton Marsh RSPB"! Obviously I have seen Black-winged Stilts before and was also lucky enough to see the nesting pair at Holme in 1987, but they are always a fabulous bird to see. The word 'bother' sprung to mind (well similar), I had to deliver the shopping first though. Frampton is actually closer for me to visit than Cley.
After arriving at Holme, all kinds of things occurred. Mother had ordered a footstool for Father from a mail order catalogue recently and it arrived this morning – I did tell her before she ordered it, that it wouldn't be strong enough and when we tested it out, it broke straight away, which obviously was all my fault!!! Naturally! Because Mother hates using the phone and has a serious phone phobia, it was me that had to phone up the company and attempt to get the money back etc, so this took time. Father then stated he wanted to go outside, which I agreed to help him do, but he insisted he wasn't going out in the wheelchair and I insisted that he wouldn't be walking out there!!! Battle of the Clarke's! He didn't go out, sadly. The Honey Bees that have been flying round Mother's back kitchen door for weeks on end, seemed to be more active today. I decided not to rush to Frampton and do some birding here first.
Gypsy Lane (a public footpath just east of Titchwell RSPB) has been closed for months, well since the Storm Surge in December 2013 to be exact – I noticed recently that the caged fence and closure sign has been removed, so decided to venture along this path to find some birds. Its a beautiful hedge-lined path and leads to a small copse and then on to the beach just west of Brancaster Golf Club House. It was a lovely walk, but saw very little apart from a Chaffinch, Robins x 2, Long-tailed Tits, Chiffchaffs x 2 and a few butterflies: Speckled Wood, Orange tip, Peacock and Gatekeeper. This lane used to be a good place for Spotted Flycatcher – there are some suitable dead tree stumps, which they seem to favour, but none appeared. Had lunch back at my car. Lunch was then disturbed by an hysterical phone call from Mother who said the Honey Bees had swarmed into a huge mass against the wall of her house! Phoned Paul King at Brancaster (Bee Keeper) but sadly due to personal circumstances was not able to come out, but very kindly gave me another number to ring, so I did.... answerphone... left message. The next bee keeper phoned Mother later, but was too late, the bees had flown again! At least she has a contact name and number if they swarm again.
Searched telegraph poles around Brancaster and beyond for Bee-eaters (ha ha) and then went to Titchwell RSPB. I had now sunk into a can't be bothered to do anything mood. Plodded round the Fen Trail and found nothing. Sat on the seat overlooking Patsy's Pool which was more productive and I counted 11 Red-crested Pochards, 2 Pochards, 2 Little Grebes, Tufted Ducks, Lapwings, Mute Swans, Greylag Geese and teenage youngsters and also a Marsh Harrier flew over. Met a very nice couple who sat on the seat next to me, they seemed fairly new to birding and I helped them ID some birds. The lady was very pleased when I showed her something about her binoculars she didn't know. She had a pair of Swarovski 8x25's which for small, narrow field of view bins were pretty awesome! Enjoy the rest of your holiday if you are reading this.
Ok, so time to go and see the Black-winged Stilts! Left Titchwell and started the drive to Frampton. I timed this completely and utterly wrong and ended up driving through King's Lynn in rush-hour. There had been no updates on the pager since 3.20pm and it was now 5.45 as I drove along the A17. I phoned RBA and asked them to put a no news message out, to prompt someone to put some positive or negative news out. This generally works, but not today! On my arrival, my heart sank. I could only see five other birders and after a quick scan with the bins, couldn't not see any long legged birds! Got the scope out and searched properly, still no long legged birds! Walked to the sea bank and joined the other birders and continued to search, but nothing, no Black-winged Stilts! There was however a orangy Curlew Sandpiper to watch. Frampton Marsh is a stunning and vast reserve, but it would have been a little better if the stilts had played ball! I phoned RBA to say there was no sign of at 6.43pm. Met a very nice couple here who read my blog and they recalled they last time they had seen me, which was at the Terek Sandpiper at Covenham Reservoir in May 2014. Walked back to the car, the wind had picked up and it was now cloudy and spitting with rain. Drove to a reservoir where the stilts had been seen earlier today, nothing. Drove back to the car park area by the sea wall, had a coffee and waited. Another birder here had travelled from Peterborough and also the Gibraltar Point Shorebird Warden and Assistant Warden were also here to see the Black-winged Stilts. I stayed until about 8.30pm and then gave up. On route home a message came up on the pager "BLACK-WINGED STILTS again 8.45pm on wet grassland at Marsh Farm, Frampton Marsh RSPB"!!!! There are no words really that spring to mind that can be repeated on here! Got home late and wished I hadn't left!
I am trying to add my pictures for the week I had off recently! I have posted a couple here: http://pennyshotbirdingandlife.blogspot.co.uk/2015/05/bluebells-up-hill-down-dale-glittering.html
News of the Photographic Competition winners now on the Norfolk Bird & Wildlife Website: