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Monday, 29 May 2017

Bank Holiday Birding – Hunstanton to Salthouse!

After a night of rain and easterlies – today looked promising. When I phoned my mother for a catch-up this morning, she declared that 'it felt dead' and there was 'no bird movement' in her garden and there 'wouldn't be any birds today'. Well, apart from two birds, she was correct!

In the Millennium Garden I found a few Goldfinches, House Sparrows and one Mallard – nothing else of note, but a nice selection of flowers. If the sun had been out, this would have been a good spot for butterflies and insects. Walked across the road to look into the pitch 'n' putt area for birds, to find that most of the bushes have been removed for a new playground!

The Lighthouse garden and surroundings produced a Robin, Hedge Sparrow, House Sparrows, a Pied Wagtail and Fulmars soaring over the cliffs.

Holme NWT and Holme NOA
Parked up on the NOA car park and spent a while watching the big sycamore in the NWT car park, but only managed to find a female Blackcap and a couple of Chaffinches. I got some really weird looks and stares from non-birders – funny that, as I found them rather odd, where were their binoculars!?

As I crossed over to the dunes, a Marsh Harrier flew east overhead. I then walked through the pines to the observatory. A couple of Hedge Sparrows and a Robin were all I could find. The new wheelchair friendly raised boardwalk path (part of the coastal footpath) has now been finished and in my personal opinion looks a complete eyesore! Also, you now can't walk directly from the NOA to seawatch from the dunes, as the steps have been removed and it is roped off! So you either have to jump over/duck under the rope or walk all the way down the new boarded path (left) and walk back right to follow the usual path to the favoured spot on the dunes. There would be very few people, that would be physically capable of pushing a wheelchair from Thornham to Holme and vice versa! I really can't see this new raised boardwalk being used for the purpose it is intended! Was the removal of pine trees/branches and part of the dune/ bank and cost of the wood and labour worth it? more than probably not!

There are several very disappointing things going in Holme recently – an ancient pond being filled in and levelled out in a horse meadow, mature hedges being hacked down, dumping of rubbish in village car park, trees being cut down at the request of second home owners etc. Holme is a rural village and is also part of an SSSI site ('Site of Special Scientific Interest' for those of you that don't know) being Holme Dunes Nature Reserve, Norfolk Wildlife Trust and Holme Bird Observatory, Norfolk Ornithologists' Association – both reserves have been established for many decades. To those people that have moved into our village and don't like wild flowers, brambles, nettles, bushes and trees, then maybe you have moved to the wrong place! Please don't destroy our habitat and wildlife and make it neat and tidy – its not a town – this is the countryside and what little we have left is very precious! So much land has already been taken for huge houses, built for second homes. Its a pity some of that land wasn't used to build housing for local people – I know several people I went to school with in Holme, who would dearly love to buy a house in the village – but the astronomical prices are way off what we all earn! Someone told me today, that there is a new four bedroom property in the village that is up for sale for over a million pounds!!! I'll put an offer in for £125,000!😏

Where was I? Ah yes, so I arrived at the bird observatory to find Steve Newman and David Bratt on duty and sat and had a chat with them for a while. Weather dull, gloomy and cold. Yellow Flag Irises out in full bloom in the pond. Nice to see Peter and Sandra Tilley here too. Headed back to my car. Bumped into Mark and Tracy B. who said they had seen a Spotted Flycatcher in the sycamore where I had the Blackcap earlier. Went to visit mother briefly and then headed to Titchwell.

Titchwell RSPB
Walked slowly round the Fen and Meadow Trail in search of migrants. Cetti's Warbler, Blackcaps singing, Robins, Song Thrush, Blackbird, Jay, Chaffinches, Blue Tits and that was about it. Some birders who had just come from Thetford said it was warm and sunny there! It was so cold, I changed my clothes into warmer attire! Just as I was leaving, Geoff and Pat kindly rang me to say the Turtle Dove was feeding in the field next to the big wooden gate by the last car parking area, which I got some half decent pictures of, thanks!

Stopped in the layby for Burnham Overy Dunes and had my lunch. A Red Kite soared over my car! Got some pictures, but rubbish because of the light. The weather was so miserable and raining now too, that I couldn't be bothered to walk out there! A bit later on, there was pager news of an Icterine Warbler at Winterton (found by Barry Jarvis) and bird of the day was a Greenish Warbler found by Andy Stoddart at The Hood, Blakeney Point.

Garden Drove, Warham
Parked up at the concrete pad and walked Garden Drove, to the copse and back to the car – for the first time it was completely devoid of birds! I was feeling pretty fed-up now. I continued east, tempted by the Greenish Warbler, but not by the walk to Blakeney Point!

House on the Hill, Blakeney
I sat here in the car for a good while, waiting for something exciting to appear, but best I saw was a Robin, Whitethroat, Goldfinches and Hedge Sparrows. I've only ever found one good bird here and that was a Red-backed Shrike. Talking of shrikes, we haven't had any yet this Spring!

Walsey Hills NOA
Pretty dead in here too, apart from a Cetti's Warbler singing, Blackcap skulking around, Chiffchaff and a Cuckoo calling.

Gramborough Hill, Salthouse
Whitethroat, family of Stonechats, Meadow Pipits, Sand Martins, 2 Avocets on the pool and a Redshank. House Sparrows in the bushes by my car in Beach Road. I left and parked up next to the duck pond for a coffee and watched something very amusing – a Mallard and a Rat where feeding on some seed together, only inches apart! Never seen that before! Lots of hirundines skimming over the marshes and flocks of Starlings perched on the wire fence. There was more bird action here, than anywhere else I had been today!


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