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Sunday, 9 August 2020

Hoopoe Search & Garden Drove New "Pop Up" Campsite!

I bumped into one of the HCA's at work (Tracey) last night, whilst in Sainsbury's, who's father lives and was born in Wells – he had seen the recent Hoopoe in Wighton yesterday, on grass by the village pond, so after the initial sighting on RBA on 2nd August, its obviously still around! Presumably its the same bird.

I have not had to work on a Sunday for several months, in fact I don't think I have since before Covid erupted – the reason for this, is that one of my colleagues needed to work the Sunday's to do with Covid/childcare issues etc etc and so took all Sunday's that nobody else particularly wanted to work, so I gave all mine away. My scheduled Sunday today, had to be done by me though – another sticky, dripping hot day at work and when Autumn migration seems to have kicked in! With James M. finding a Icterine Warbler at The Hood, BP and several Pied Flycatchers found along the coast, it all looked exciting on the RBA website, to my dismay at lunchtime!

Finished work at 4.30pm, flew home, showered, put birding gear and sandwich/drink in the car and headed to Wighton to look for the Hoopoe. I searched many grassy spots, including around the pond and also found a large recreation field with children's play area fenced separately. This field held a lot of birds, including at least 20+ Pied Wagtails feeding on the short turf, Goldfinches, Greenfinches (not seen one for ages!), Blackbirds and big numbers of House Sparrows in the surroundings bushes. I also had a lovely view of a female Blackcap. It looked a brilliant spot for a Hoopoe, but not today! Thanks to Tracey for more information she kindly messaged me as to where it might be, whilst I was in Wighton.

Headed to Garden Drove at Warham to search for Pied Flycatchers. I had already heard from another birder a short while ago, that big changes had occurred at Garden Drove and I could hardly believe what I had been told! I had to go there, just to see for myself. It was the most depressing thing I have seen in ages. The field next to the concrete pad at Garden Drove is now a bloody "pop up" campsite!!!!! Called "Swallowtails by the Sea". What a stupid name! What an incredibly STUPID place to stick a campsite in an area of natural beauty! The field with the barn, is where I have watched migrants in the hedgerows eg Redstart and Pied Flycatcher – the field where Goldfinches and Linnets feed regularly, where Barn Owls and birds of prey hunt – not anymore! You can't see the hedgerows now, as an entire line of round bales alongside the fence that was, means you can’t see the field, never mind the hedges, except through the gate! There were huge tents, Camper Vans, Yurts and porta loos,  cars and lots of people. Someone on the seaward side had a barbecue going, next to the long grass – OMG! Accident waiting to happen! A big line of huge industrial size bins for different types of rubbish were all full and overspilling onto the grass! I just stood there in shock – I couldn't believe what I was seeing! I almost wanted to cry!
Picture above: I had hold the camera high above my head to take this

The end of birding solitude at Garden Drove, Warham

Garden Drove is one of those secret little spots which most birders know about and of course local people, including bait diggers and fishermen – somewhere to escape from the crowds. A quiet and tranquil spot. NOW everyone knows where it is! This is so desperately sad. Is there anywhere in Norfolk where you can escape from the masses now?! A man was cycling around the path on the west field where you are not allowed to go and then whizzed back into the campsite. Couples and families walking along the track, who would never of known it even existed, until they booked to stay here. I got a few funny looks with my binoculars. I felt utter despair!

Along the track to the copse I found dogs mess in a plastic bag hung in the hedge, rubbish along the track and a discarded broken camping stool. The copse has been cordoned off, as there are beehives bang in the middle, right in the spot where you scan up into the sycamore leaves for leaf warblers and flycatchers. The beehives are normally in a different spot, I have never seen them in the middle of the copse before, which I find quite odd, as they are usually in a sunny area, of which there is no sun in the middle of the copse! Has this been done on purpose to stop people going in there I wonder? No Pied Flycatchers seen or anything else at all, hardly surprising! Goodbye Garden Drove!

Finished my little evening excursion at North Point Pools, Wells. Thank god, I was the only one there! Spoonbills x 3, Wood Sandpipers x 2, lots of Black-tailed Godwits, Barn Owl, Shelducks, Avocets, Greylag Geese and other distant birds that I couldn't see as light almost gone. Drove home feeling very sad indeed.

Someone on Twitter this evening said that a pop up campsite can be there without any planning permission for 42 days, so I hope very much this is not permanent! What they said exactly was this "A pop up means they have no licence or permission and they don't need one for 42 days. Seems you can do wtf you like these days even if in an AONB and encroaching on wildlife"

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