5th for Great Britain and 2nd for Norfolk!
My lunch break finishes at 1pm and I had had a couple of phone calls to make, so didn't even get round to looking at the RBA website on my phone, before I returned to work. Later on I finished work earlier to go to a GP appointment for 4pm. Whilst sitting in the surgery I opened the RBA website on my phone and looked twice, when I could see bold red writing! 'MEGA GREAT KNOT (Summer plumage) on freshmarsh at Titchwell RSPB'!!! WOW! I saw the first Great Knot at Breydon that didn't get accepted and missed the second one at Breydon Water because of work, so really needed to see this bird! As is usual with GP appointments, I didn't get seen at 4pm! Luckily though, it wasn't too much later and I was heading home at 4.32pm precisely!
It was raining when I reached home, chucked my gear in the car ready and then HAD to do Mother's on-line shopping for tomorrow – I should have done it last night, so that will teach me a lesson. I couldn't risk doing it when I got home later as there is a deadline time – I did it speedily in approximately 20 minutes – record! Pager message: '......til 5.05pm on freshmarsh, then flew north to beach'!!! Oh dear! My heart sank.
Headed to Titchwell RSPB via Ringstead. A further pager message later, saying 'still no further sign by 5.45pm' Bother etc etc!!! Kept going. There were rivers of water via the Ringstead back roads and I really regretted my chosen route. I had to slow down to 1st gear several times, to plough through the flooded roads. Reached Titchwell RSPB and didn't even bother bringing the camera with me – it was raining and thundering and I just knew this Great Knot would be too distant for photography, so decided to phonescope it, if it was close enough. Marched along the main path and hoped that someone would find this mega bird again and they did! Up on the pager at '.....6.13pm on beach, 400 yards east of the end of the boardwalk'. I quickened my pace, trying my best not to immerse my shoes completely in the deep puddles that filled the main path to the beach – other birders were close behind me – no one was really talking, it was head down and get there as quick as possible.
Walked east along the beach, over the thousands of razor shells, across a channel of water and onto some dunes to join other birders scoping a distant flock of Knot. Ian Brittain very kindly let me look through his scope to see my first GREAT KNOT at just after 6.30pm - thanks Ian! This was actually my best view. Eddie M. was here, along with Simon R. from Notts, James McC. etc with lots of other local birders and some from afar, to see this rare vagrant. I clambered over the marram grass behind other birders and set up my scope. Pete S. had forgotten his scope, so shared mine. Once you had seen the Great Knot amongst the main flock of Knot it stood out from the rest, with the black markings on chest, rusty red plumage and longer bill, even though it was a good distance away. A Spoonbill flew west towards Thornham Harbour. The rain and light were pretty rubbish, which didn't really help! Far too distant to phonescope, even Eddie didn't bother! I would have liked to have seen it closer, but mustn't grumble, at least I saw it. Sadly though, other birders turning up later dipped, as the entire flock of Knot including the Great Knot, flew high west at 6.53pm and we watched them until they became mere 'dot's' in the sky over Holme/Hunstanton – maybe to Snettisham RSPB to roost? Who knows! A handful of birds appeared to break off from the main flock, heading south and back to the freshmarsh, so we all left and walked back in fairly heavy rain to the freshmarsh, but no knot were seen here.
Eddie and I sat in the Island Hide for a while and watched a pristine Med. Gull preening away on the one of the grassy islands, which I took an iphone video of, but it wasn't very good. My hair was dripping wet and I could feel that my socks were wet too – all part of the twitch! The light was dramatic and beautiful and there were big numbers of waders on the pool, including Avocets, Shelducks, Black-tailed Godwits, Spotted Redshank, Teal, Black-headed Gulls, Pied Wagtails, Dunlin, Little Ringed Plover, Little Egret, Little Grebe etc. Also Cetti's Warbler singing in the scrub by the hide. Left here and returned to the car park. Gave Eddie a protective finger bandage from my first aid kit, as he had trashed his finger (slight fracture) in an accident and it looked very sore indeed.
Went to my Mother's and excitedly told her all about the Great Knot (I had asked her earlier if she wanted to go, but the thunderstorm put her off). At last, I managed to re-tune her TV., which Mother was very pleased about, as she has not been able to watch BBC1 or ITV1 for a good week or more. Drove home via Tesco's garage shop, where I bought myself a celebration treat, a reduced price 'mixed berry tart' - yummy!
An excellent evening all round! I was very lucky indeed to have seen that bird, even though it was distant and thank goodness someone re-found it. Massive congratulations to the finder, Chris Booth! Thanks for making my day mega exciting!
Best picture I've found so far, by Kayn Forbes: