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Monday, 18 September 2017

Pallas's Grasshopper Warbler Take 2!

I can't remember what time I got up this morning, but it was dark! It killed me to do this, but I couldn't miss out on the opportunity of seeing this mega bird. If you snooze, you lose – as they say! I arrived at the Burnham Overy Staithe harbour area at about 5.30am – parked up on high ground by the boats along the left handside of the entrance to the harbour car park. Its not a good idea to park in the main car park if high tide is due, as your car is highly likely to be flooded, as others found out later this evening!

I rarely twitch a bird before work – especially when I start at 8.15am. The last time I can recall doing this was for the Great Snipe at Cley NWT in May 2011. It was cold, very cold first thing this morning with strong northerly winds. I walked along the seawall in the dark – it wasn't even dawn yet, never mind sunrise! I arrived at the location it was last seen last night at 5.50am – I was the first person here, but it wasn't too many minutes before I could see other figures appearing in the darkness. I was standing just west of the corner which meets up with the lower path from the A149 parking area – just north of this corner is the sluice.

The man who I had been standing with last night (along with Dave Appleton) joined me and then another birder turned up to join us. A group of approximately 7 or 8 birders who had walked up from the lower path, positioned themselves by the sluice. You would have thought they would have joined us, but for some reason they remained there. More and more birders started to turn up and joined the now large crowd by the sluice. I wanted to tell them that it was last seen where I was standing last night, but I couldn't risk leaving my spot – I could see it happening, bird appearing and me trying to run back, by which time the bird would have gone to ground again. I had such a small window of opportunity – I had to leave this spot by 7.20am at the extreme latest to give me time to walk back to the car and get to work on time. So, my plan was to tweet the information out – I have a large number of followers on Twitter, so hoped that one of them would see my tweet. I wrote the following: "First one here at 5.50 - no sign of PGTips at BOD by 6.50am so far! 36 people here - most standing in wrong spot!" – this plan worked beautifully..... within a couple of minutes the entire crowd was heading our way!

As the clock ticked away, I became more and more frustrated. Someone thought they had the Pallas's Grasshopper Warbler in the suada along the north side of the sea wall and everyone rushed to see it – I didn't move – it turned out to be a Wren. I was the first to arrive and the first to have to leave – it was torture, but I had to go. At 7.20am I speed walked back to my car. Every so often I turned and glanced back at the crowd – each time I looked, I saw no excitement, so it hadn't been seen yet!

I arrived at work not only on time, but a little early! Got changed at work and managed to get through the day. Naturally the bird was seen after I left – at 9.27am, by the gate on the corner, bang in the middle of the initial two groups of birders. I had heard through the grapevine that possibly some of the sightings throughout the day were not confirmed.

At the end of my working day, I was very kindly allowed to leave off 15 minutes early (time to be made up tomorrow) to collect and pay for my new AKU walking boots from Morston Country Sports in Holt – the shop closes at 5pm and the owner had kindly agreed to keep the shop open until 5.15pm for me, which was very kind of him indeed. I made it just in time! I tried these boots on recently but didn't buy them as they were insanely expensive. After trying just about every boot I could find locally and in Cambridge – nothing felt as good as those boots, so phoned up to reserve them. I am now the owner of the most comfortable walking boots I have ever owned! I was also given a pack of three pairs of Grisport walking socks and a Nikwax Fabric and Leather Proofing spray – fabulous. Also purchased a pair of Northface waterproof trousers whilst here too – there is a very good reason why I have been buying lots of new gear recently. All will be revealed by the end of the week!
My new AKU Alterra GTX Anthracite/Magenta walking boots
Purchased from Morston Country Sports in Holt

Popped into Budgens to buy a snack and was then going to drive home – I was beyond exhausted. But instead, I decided to have a third attempt at the Pallas's Grasshopper Warbler! I had no intentions in going again this evening, but knew that I had to go, if I wanted a chance of seeing this mega. It was annoying that I had to pick these boots up this evening, as Burnham Overy Staithe is much closer to King's Lynn than it is to Holt! I also had to get the on-line food shop from mother's later on – I was going to have to dig very deep into my energy reserves tank!

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