In Oak Tree at 7.25pm – Gramborough Hill, Salthouse
Camera wouldn't focus in awful light – worst picture I have ever taken of an Icterine Warbler!
Here is a better one!
Saturday was spent with my sisters Vivien and Lucy. It was the first time since lockdown that we had spent a really nice day together and away from King's Lynn! We started off at Castle Rising Tearooms, as this is one of Lucy's favourite places to eat. Lucy had to sit in the back of my car and we both had to wear masks. Vivien drove her car from Ely. We met up at 11.15am for lunch and arrived extra early, to ensure we got an outside table. Vivien arrived just before us and managed to get the best table in the garden in a shady spot. After having early lunch at 12pm, we had left by 1pm, which was a good job as it became extremely busy and there were several barking dogs in the garden.
We spent the afternoon at Holme Bird Observatory – as soon as we parked up on the NOA car park it started to rain, so we had to delay our ramble for a few minutes. We walked across to the dunes and then along the path through the pines to the observatory, where we chatted with Sophie (Warden) and her mother Jenny. It was extremely windy, but with the sun out it was lovely. Lucy was really excited to see a lovely green Common Lizard, that Sophie spotted basking on the sandstone rocks by the Globe Buddleia. There were big numbers of Silver Y moths – can't remember the last time I saw that many! Red Admirals were also seen and Dragonflies were whizzing round the pond. It was an idyllic afternoon and brought back many happy childhood memories of time spent here with our parents. We paused momentarily at the spot where our parent's ashes are. There was a Wryneck showing on the NWT Forestry but Lucy didn't want to walk that far, so we left.
Spent the evening back in my garden and I made us all cheese on toast, whilst we watched the House Sparrows, Collared Doves, Great Tit, Coal Tit, Blackbird, Robin and Hedge Sparrow. We sat and reminisced, discussed Ray's forthcoming 60th birthday, Christmas, life and our futures!!! Later on I discovered that Sue G. had kindly sent me a link to a fascinating lady's blog, about her move to Shetland this August – here it is: https://traceydoxey.com/
I felt exhausted and sadly had a wasted day........ mostly. Arrived at the NOA car park to look for the Wryneck. Cutting things fine was an understatement, as I started walking west to the NWT Forestry at 4.45pm. Passed Gary (Warden) and I knew I had to be out of there by 5pm when the reserve closes! It poured with rain and I got soaked. Sheltered under the pillbox for a couple of minutes and then continued walking in rain. Through rain splatted binoculars I searched hard at the spot where the Wryneck favours, but I failed miserably. But, I did see a Whinchat and 2 Stonechats! Walked off the Forestry onto the Firs Road, to return to my car just in the nick of time at 5pm, phew! Continued to scan hawthorns and scrub for the Wryneck, but no luck. I could see two birders scanning from the coastal footpath, but don't know if they had any luck. Any sensible person would have now returned home, but I drove all the way east along the coast road to Salthouse! I couldn't resist seeing an Icterine Warbler, plus I couldn't remember the last time I saw one.
Sunset from Gramborough Hill, Salthouse
On route I stopped at the 'House on the Hill' at Blakeney to look for migrants, but none seen. I got lucky here once and found a Red-backed Shrike, many years ago. Continued east and parked the car up along Beach Road at Salthouse. Lots of camper vans were parked up for the night. Walked to Gramborough Hill and found Carl and Tania Chapman, Mark Clements and another birder. Carl said 'you're cutting things fine Penny' I was indeed! They had seen the Icterine Warbler, but it wasn't showing now. I was told there were several Willow Warblers in the scrub. 5 minutes later they all left and I was alone. There were indeed several Willow Warblers, but at 7.25pm I had brilliant views of the stocky Icterine Warbler feeding amongst the boughs of the oak tree, in the centre of the scrub and again at 7.35pm! I was so pleased I made the effort to get here! The light was still good, but not good enough for my camera, which wouldn't focus and resulted in the worst ever picture I have taken of an Icterine Warbler, hey ho! Climbed up to the top of the hill and took some pictures of the beautiful sunset. Pink gulls flew over in cerise skies. Drove home and arrived back at 9.15pm!