Started the day off at CleySpy and bought a few sale items. Headed to Beach Road, Salthouse and walked to Gramborough Hill to find some migrants. Nothing here at all, aside from a few Linnets and a Stonechat. Whilst here, news of an Arctic Warbler in Wells Woods broke! I think the last one I saw was on 11th September in 2010 at Holme – click to see my account and pictures.
Headed west to continue searching for my own birds. Parked up on the concrete pad at Garden Drove at Warham Greens. Three cars here already. It was exciting walking along the hedge lined track and the noise of hundreds if not thousands of honey bees buzzing around the ivy blossom was wonderful. One LBJ on route and 1 Robin. At the bottom of the track I discovered Mark Golley and Graham Etherington intently watching something – a Yellow-browed Warbler, which I managed to get a very brief view of, thanks.
Ventured out to East Hills with John Furse and Andy (don't know surname). It was my idea to search for migrants here. Me and my bright ideas! #mistake There had to be something out there today, surely? Initially there was a flurry of excitement with a Spotted Flycatcher and a Redstart in the same clump of dead pines. The sycamore glade beckoned and the excitement built – nothing in here, not a single bird, I was shocked. A Chiffchaff, Blackbird with white feather, a Robin and a Wren were the only other birds seen at this point. Further along we saw a second Flycatcher and that was it, not even a Yellow-browed Warbler!
I hate being on East Hills, when something big turns up – initially as a probable, but eventually confirmed as a MEGA – A PALLAS'S GRASSHOPPER WARBLER was found along the sea wall at Burnham Overy Staithe by Norfolk birder Stuart White! My heart sank. In my frustration and hysteria and not being on the 'mainland' I didn't read the pager messages correctly – I thought they said 3/4 miles east of the seawall, which to me meant somewhere in the dunes. Therefore I concluded that I wouldn't have time to walk out there, after returning from East Hills. I tried to ring several birders whom I thought might be on site, to out find the exact location of this bird, but no one answered their phones. So, believing I didn't have time to get out to the dunes with failing light, I opted for the Arctic Warbler at Wells Woods instead.
Paid my £2.00 fee for parking in Wells Woods Car park. On route to the Arctic Warbler I bumped into Andrew Bloomfield who said he had heard that the Pallass's Grasshopper Warbler was somewhere by the sluice!! OMG, if had realised that, I wouldn't have bothered with the Arctic Warbler. Frustrated, I carried on a few more yards and caught up with John Furse and Andy who had just seen the Arctic Warbler. After not seeing the Arctic Warbler and getting increasingly frustrated, I promptly left and speed walked back to my car. Flew west along the A149 to Burnham Overy Staithe and slung my car in the staithe car park. I have no idea what time it was at this point.
Speed walked and ran along the sea wall, passing two smiling happy birders who had both just seen the PGTips. Struggling to breathe whilst running, but determined to keep up the pace. I have never seen a Pallas's Grasshopper Warbler anywhere, a bird I have dreamed of seeing and to see one in Norfolk would be incredible. As I run, I can see the crowd dispersing and heading back along the path south to the A149 and this leaves only two people. As I get nearer I see that one of the two birders is Dave Appleton (an excellent Norfolk birder), he is standing looking down in the brambles/reeds and I hope and pray. 'Is it showing?' I ask.... 'not at the moment' Dave replies. Someone had been playing a tape a short while ago – the bird appeared, but had not surfaced since. Was this because of the tape? Or, because it was now roosting? I'll probably never know. I stood there with my bins raised, not taking my eyes off the brambles – all I needed was a few seconds of viewing to say I have seen my first ever Pallas's Grasshopper Warbler. I pleaded with the bird to show itself #desperate My heart was sinking fast. I could not believe I wasn't going to see this mega bird. I was close to tears to be honest. The other birder (don't know who) hadn't seen it either. We remained until we couldn't see anything and then trudged back to the car park. I was pleased for Dave though – it was a lifer for him! I drove home in a very sad state. Its no good anyone trying to console me by saying that its only a bird – its not only a bird, its a bloody PALLAS'S GRASSHOPPER WARBLER!!!
The saddest birding day EVER. Gutted is a
understatement. Pity we can't have emergency leave at work for a bird I've never seen before, a bird that I have dreamed of seeing – CRAP DAY! Goodbye East Hills!!! No doubt there will be some 'showing well' messages on the pager in the morning, whilst I am at work!