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Tuesday, 30 October 2018

Holkham Pines & Burnham Overy Dunes!

The rain did not deter me in my quest to find a mega – there had to be something out there somewhere! So, after returning home from work (still on my phase return), I headed to Holkham and parked at Lady Ann's Drive. There were not many cars here, which was hardly surprising with the rain and wind today. I was accosted by a car parking man, within a couple of minutes of arriving, who stated that I did not have a ticket showing – 'no' I replied.... 'I have only just arrived and was just eating a sandwich before getting out to get a ticket'!!! I tried not to sound sarcastic!

Waterproofed up and with camera in rucksack ready for any exciting birds that I may find (ha ha), I set off west through the pines. There were hundreds if not thousands of Fieldfares, Redwings and Blackbirds in flocks overhead and feeding on hawthorn berries either side of the path and also good numbers of Robins. Because of the rain, I didn't get my camera out of the rucksack, so no pictures I'm afraid. I didn't want to get the camera soaked, unless a mega jumped out at me and that sadly did not happen. There were lots of Goldcrests in the pines and sycamores and tit flocks included Long-tailed Tits, Blue Tits, Great Tits and also one Coal Tit. I had a dark Chiffchaff in a small sycamore in front of Washington Hide and was thinking about getting the camera out, when it duly vanished! A Cetti's Warbler was also singing here.

By the cross tracks it was very busy with yet more Fieldfares, Blackbirds and Redwings feeding in a large hawthorn and drinking from puddles on the path and saw another tit flock, but no Yellow-browed Warblers seen, which was very frustrating indeed. Every thrush I saw had to be 'cheeked' out – where is OUR Grey-cheeked Thrush?! I flushed three Woodcocks throughout the afternoon. I searched hard and veered off the path several times to find something exciting – I even searched the small copse where I watched a Red-flanked Bluetail on 12th October 2015. I know the weather was atrocious, but even still, I was surprised that I didn't see another birder at all. Actually it was quite nice, having the entire place to myself, although there were a handful of dog walkers around.

I leaned over the fence to look in the garden at Meals House and imagined how beautiful a Siberian Rubythroat would have looked on the bright, wet green grass – dream on! Eventually I reached Burnham Overy Dunes, but sadly I didn't have as much time here as I would have liked. Either everything was hunkered down, or there were no birds here at all really, but did have lots of Goldcrests in the big sycamore where the Citril Finch spent most of its time back in 2015. The light was fading fast now and I had already gone over my ticket slot in the car park – I walked back with increased pace!

Just after Meals House I witnessed a mega spectacle! A HUGE murmuration (thousands) of Starlings, which then landed in the trees around me and the reeds either side of the path towards Washington Hide – the noise was just amazing and I was in the middle of them all! No one else here but me, fabulous! Heard the Cetti's Warbler again by the hide and watched more thrushes drinking from puddles on route back to the car. Luckily I did not have a fine for being way over my ticket time! I did not waste any time faffing about with wet gear in my car, in case the ticket man walked across to slap a fine on the windscreen! I very quickly did a Penelope Pitstop out of there! A lovely afternoon, but my hoped for mega did not reveal itself. No doubt with the sunshine and no rain tomorrow, something big will be found by the usual rarity finders – hopefully anyway!

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