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Sunday, 24 May 2020

Burnham Overy Dunes & Holkham!

The skies were grey, it was extremely windy and almost chilly, so I knew that there would be far less people on the coast today. I arrived at Burnham Overy Staithe at just before 10am and parked up in my usual spot on the main road, just east of the village and there were only three cars parked up when I arrived. Scanning out across the marsh and dunes, I could hardly see a soul! Excellent! It was cold enough for me to need my coat on. I brought my Leki walking stick with me, just in case I was forced to keep any dogs at 2 metre distancing!

I really enjoyed the cool walk out to the dunes and with hardly anyone there, it was a joy! On the way out I saw: Lesser Whitethroat, Hedge Sparrow, Reed Warbler, Reed Bunting, Little Egrets, Lapwings, Egyptian Geese, Canada Geese, Pochard, Redshanks, Little Grebes, Avocets with young, Shelducks, Jackdaw, Oystercatcher, Black-headed Gulls, Skylarks, Linnets, Meadow Pipits, Red-legged Partridge and 3 Spoonbills flew over. Nothing was seen apart from Linnets, in the scrub at the end of the boardwalk. I then walked east towards Holkham pines. Only a few yards east, along the fence wire and bramble bushes, were a pair of Stonechats with their two cute offspring, which was lovely to see. I continued east through the dunes. The sun started to come out and it became very warm, far too warm for my coat! Just before the west end of the pines I saw a single Wheatear on the fence wire, a Kestrel hovering, Goldfinches and Swifts and Swallows were gracing the air. Time for lunch! I positioned myself hidden away from the main path and sat looking into a large hollow surrounded by sycamore trees and brambles and enjoyed my egg sandwiches, chocolate and flask of tea. I heard a Blackcap and a Chiffchaff whilst sitting here and several Cormorants flew over. I hadn't passed anyone on my way to the pines – it was devoid of people of dogs! A rare treat! That was only because of the poor start to the morning, I expected people to start pouring out, now the sun was blazing.

I ambled leisurely along the path east through the pines – it was so beautiful here, I can't remember the last time I walked along this path. I saw a Treecreeper briefly. One couple passed me going west, but no one else seen. In the area of trees (where there was once a Red-flanked Bluetail, for those of you that were there) just before the "crosstracks", there were a number of birds flitting around, so I went to investigate and found Long-tailed Tits, Chaffinches, a Blackbird, Robin, Cetti's Warbler singing, Reed Warbler singing and a Blackcap singing, no rarities found. I also saw a Sandwasp near here and several Wall, Red Admiral and Peacock butterflies. I walked a short distance east of crosstracks and then retraced my footsteps. Normally I would walk to Lady Anne's Drive and get a bus back to my car, but its not a time for being on public transport and it was too hot to walk any further. As I neared the boardwalk, I could see the huge increase in people and not a single dog that I saw was on a lead. Some dogs were under control and some were clearly not. Just before the boardwalk I found a Lizard basking on the sand, but it whipped away like grease lightning into the shade of a privet bush, so no chance of a picture! I watched the Stonechats again before heading back along the boardwalk.

A couple walked past me with their dogs way ahead and I highlighted politely that they needed to be kept under closer control, being as it was an SSSI site and birds were breeding and nesting right now – the reply I received as they walked past me was "we come here a lot" and normally I would have answered back, but couldn't be bothered. So, they come here a lot, what difference does it make if you come here a lot or not?! You STILL need to keep your dog under control. Coming here 'a lot' does not entitle you to let your dogs run riot!!!

Next incident: this one really got me riled!!! So, after you leave the scrub behind you, along the boardwalk there is a very sharp right corner, then it continues and then there is a sharp left corner. At this corner a well dressed lady with white poodle, had decided she would take a short cut across the creeks and mud and marsh to get to the dunes!!! I just stood there flabbergasted! I watched her jump over one creek, which she only just made and I really don't think she would have got across the entire marsh, without twisting an ankle or worse, maybe I should have kept quiet. She immediately flushed two Redshanks who start making a hell of racket, as she had obviously disturbed their nest or young were close by. She was quite a distance from me, so I had to really shout for her to hear me – she did hear me and looked up and I shouted "you are disturbing breeding birds, you've flushed those Redshanks, you are not supposed to walk across the marsh, you need to keep to the footpath – this is a SSSI site, if the wardens caught you, you would be in serious trouble" She was actually very polite and replied "thank you for letting me know" and then said "there isn't any signs saying you can't cross here" – I give up! I seriously believe the majority of people are pretty thick. Why would anyone attempt to cross a treacherous marsh with many deep creeks, when there is a lovely sea wall footpath to walk along? Also anyone with an ounce of common sense and half a brain, can visibly see there are lots of birds on the marsh that you would disturb, even if you didn't know anything about birds! Its called thinking – you've already seen the signs saying about breeding birds on the marsh etc and when you get to the marsh, oh lets walk through the birds on the marsh and let my dog run where it wants to as well!!!

I continued my walk feeling annoyed. A couple walking past me on their way out to the beach, had a huge amount of picnic bags and one of their bags looked like it contained a bag of charcoal, so I alerted the Holkham Wardens and also told them about the lady walking across the marsh disturbing the Redshanks. Paul E. checked the couple out later, but saw no evidence of a barbecue with them.

Lots of people walking out now, all with dogs off leads – exasperating! I arrived back at my car where every space was now taken up with other cars. It was boiling hot now. I did not have a nice welcome back at my house. My neighbours, who are lovely people by the way, had decided at around 8.45pm to light stuff in their steel incinerator bin – pouring black smoke billowed in my direction and filled my patio and bird feeders etc and the smell leaked into my kitchen/diner where I sit and watch TV as well. I didn't want to say anything, but I had no choice in the end, when I smelt a different, almost plastic type odour. I went round to their front door and had to knock loudly several times before they answered. They were very polite and said they would put in out, which they duly did. But, I couldn't go into the kitchen again – smoke lingers for hours, I shut the door and went to bed early, which makes a change for me! I'm really hoping this doesn't become a regular thing. Lighting bonfires and incinerators really doesn't work in small town gardens – not good for the environment and not good for neighbours! First half of the day was wonderful, the second half wasn't so!

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