I didn't get up very early, I knew I wouldn't be after last night. Really fed up with these bitterly cold North East Winds in my week off and not producing any good birds – come on! Sunday and Monday is forecast to be straight north winds – time to do those jobs you've been putting off for so long! Tuesday switches to north/north east and than AT LAST on Wednesday the winds switch to south west, Thursday east, Friday east south east, Saturday west south west and on Sunday 13th it changes to south east (I'm working that day!), but the good news is, that I also have that week off (aside from working the Sunday). So if the south east wind continues, I might, just might have a lucky week!
I decided to head east today and started off at the beautiful Glandford Ford, where I sat on the seat and had an early lunch and a cup of coffee. It was fairly sheltered here and I had lovely views of a male Grey Wagtail flitting around on the stones in the sunshine. A lone Black-headed Gull was fly-catching and a Blackcap was singing. I could see a heron standing on the daisy covered grass, by the mill house and for a minute I thought it was a statue, until the head turned and feathers wavered in the breeze! It then flew off, so that rather confirmed that it wasn't plastic or concrete! I got talking to a really lovely birding couple called Margaret and Eric, who come from Weybourne – Margaret was telling me that Red Millet is very much favoured by Turtle Doves and also Yellowhammers and that she buys it from Vine House Farm. She said 'its not cheap', but worth it, as birds love it – she said it smells a bit like aniseed and Turtle Doves are especially drawn to it – she said, its not the same in the mixed seed bags. Margaret said she knew Eddie and was worried she hadn't seen him lately – I assured her that he was fine and that I had seen him on Tuesday. We talked about so many different things, it was like I had known them for years – it was really nice to meet them.
Left here and went to visit the staff at CleySpy, which is just a minute away, if that from the ford. It was nice to see Suzanne, I hadn't seen her for ages, such a lovely lady. We chatted about the Swarovski BTX Scope, life and all that jazz. They had a gigantic pair of star gazing binoculars on display, but Tim also pointed out the "Kowa High Lander Prominar 32x82 observation binocular" which I was told a few birders have purchased and are using instead of a scope – reading the review by Steve Harris, it sounds like they are the bees knees, but the downside is that I could hardly pick them up and they obviously cost some serious dosh! If you have the pennies, they only have one pair left in stock currently.
I need some new 'work'/'car' bins. The little pair of non-waterproof 8x25 Nikons I have had for many years are pretty useless now, fogged etc and I really should just throw them in the bin. It was my own fault, as I left them in the car. I was looking at the compact sized, 2nd hand binoculars they had for sale at CleySpy with assistance from Phil, but none of them floated my boat UNTIL I looked through a new pair of Opticron Traveller BGA MG 8x32's – it was love at first look😉!!! Tiny, compact and weighing only 380g, I didn't even realise I was holding them, the image was crystal clear and with a minimum focus distance of 1.5m and quick to focus wheel – I couldn't find fault and I'm fussy with binoculars! These are now on my 'to buy' list! They are too good to risk leaving in the car though, but would fit very nicely in my work bag when out in the community for my tea and lunch breaks!
I headed to Gramborough Hill at Salthouse and was just about to walk to the hill and find something good (yeah right) when John Furse rings me to ask 'have I seen the pager?' (which I have on vibrate only and can't hear in the wind) and see that I am clearly at the wrong end of the coast, with a MALE Red-breasted Flycatcher, a Wryneck, a Pied Flycatcher and male Redstart – ALL at Holme!!! BOTHER! Stubbornly I continue walking to Gramborough Hill to find my own birds. All I found was 2 Wheatears and a few Linnets. I return to my car and decide to search in one of my favourite places: Garden Drove at Warham. I have not been here since 2016! Firstly though, I had a quick search in Walsey Hills, but only found John F.!!! plus a Blackcap or two, a Cetti's Warbler and an interesting insect that John pointed out, that I can't recall what the name was now.
So, off to Warham I go. I parked up on the concrete pad, which had no farm machinery parked up at all (this can change daily though). I have seen Red-breasted Flycatchers along this track several times before and it seems to be a really good place to find one/see one. I headed along the very overgrown track (not seen it like this before) and all I found was a Cuckoo, 3 Chaffinches and a Blackcap. I was very disappointed at not finding anything more. The copse at the end was overgrown and devoid of birds. I returned by walking along the edge of the sheltered field side of the hedge, hoping for something sunning itself on a branch, but nothing, nothing at all. I gave up and headed west to Holme.
It was very late in the day and I felt sure that I would not see any of the birds at Holme. It was a pity the RBFly didn't turn up in the morning instead of mid afternoon, it would have saved me heading east in the first place – saving time, petrol etc! I parked up on the NOA car park and walked across to where four people were standing. I was very lucky indeed, I only had to wait about 15/20 minutes when 'Dave' saved my day and said 'there it is'. I only had a couple of fairly brief views, but was very pleased to see this cracking male Red-breasted Flycatcher, before it retired for the night. I only got a smudgy blob on the camera though. Please note that the NWT reserve does not open until 10am for members/visitors and the NOA is only open to members from sunrise – expect to be checked for your NOA membership cards if you turn up early. Late news also came up on the pager this evening of a Hoopoe between Thornham and Ringstead this morning! If the Hoopoe is still around, I predict it will be found on the back of the playing field, behind Thornham Deli (there was one there before a few years back).
I headed home via Hunstanton and was horrified to watch a car driving towards me, deliberately run over a Mallard, along the 30mph main road, just before the police station. I can assure you that they had time to stop, but didn't even bother. I sounded my car horn for a long time in anger. The Mallard was still alive after it was run over and I was so upset and angry. I put my car on hazard and got out to assess the situation. Miraculously, the Mallard struggled, stood up (which I could not believe) and then waddled off and sat on the grass verge and looked ok!!! I swore it looked half flat after they had driven over it – cruel, sick people and one very lucky duck! It was a white car, but didn't get the model, let alone the reg number of the car. People who can kill animals and birds are capable of murdering anything in my opinion – makes me shudder, thinking about what I saw.
Now, the really strange thing is, that whilst my father was sat in the funeral directors in Hunstanton waiting to be 'scattered'/buried' – there has been all kinds of mishaps in the family and annoying things happening. It only just dawned on me this evening. I would have been unhappy, if I had been left in a plastic container in an unfamiliar place! Within hours of placing father in his favoured resting place, a mini fall of good birds turns up at Holme and seemingly nowhere else on the coast!!! I hadn't thought about this at all, until I was talking with mother on the phone this evening – she said 'Father has brought the birds'!!! Maybe he has and also he hated twitching and maybe this was his way of teaching me a lesson for heading so far east, when I should have stayed with him!!! I wonder what he will deliver to Holme tomorrow?!!! Maybe I need to be around to find out!