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Saturday 12 November 2011

Desert Wheatear in glorious sunshine!


I was tired before I started this morning, which doesn't help one get through the day! As I type, next door's dog is howling and barking continuously, like a devil possessed and all because the owner is not there - in fact they are not there much at all really. I wanted to go to sleep early tonight, but not much chance of that! Part of me thinks poor dog and the other part wants to go round there with a gun - can't take much more of it. People really should not have pets if they are not there, especially a dog, its a full time commitment and they should not be left in the house alone for any length of time. I am so tired tonight, that I am not even watching X-Factor and I ALWAYS watch it normally!

Eddie started at Cley this morning with a seawatch and had quite a good selection: Great Northern Diver, Black-throated Diver, a Bonxie, a Pom Skua, 2 Velvet Scoter etc.

Holme Reserves
I arrived at Holme NOA carpark at around 9.20am. On route along the Firs road I saw 4 Stonechats on the barbed wire fence and brambles. Quite a few cars in the carpark already! Andy W. pulled into the NWT carpark shortly after me, so we both walked across the dunes, through the pines and crossed over opposite the observatory and walked east to see the DESERT WHEATEAR at just after 10am. What a cracking bird! It was eating mealworms along the tide line – somebody had obviously sprinkled a few there earlier this morning! I phoned RBA with an update as no one else had bothered to do so since the first message just after 8am this morning and updated them again at 11.20am and 12.40am. I spent far too long really here - or did I? I sat on the sand for several hours watching and enjoying this beautiful little bird along with a Northern Wheatear who was not happy to be second best and chased the Desert Wheatear at every opportunity! With my 300mm lens I found it incredibly difficult to focus on this bird in the dull light as it camouflaged well against the sand and obviously I couldn't get as close as I would have liked - although I did wiggle as close as I dare! The light did improve later on though and I managed to get some reasonable shots. The bird didn't seem bothered at all by anyone's presence, but it was very much bothered by an unleashed dog. Now everyone knows how I feel about dogs, but this dog did me a huge favour - it bounded right up to the bird and the Desert Wheatear stood in a perfect stance on a large stone - the only shot on my camera I was happy with, so thanks dog! Having not eaten or drank since early morning, my head was rocking and I felt awful. The light was now beautiful but I was now on my last Sansdisk card anyway (still havn't sorted all my photos out!), so left and walked back to the carpark for late lunch. I watched a Woodcock fly from the pines behind the Firs house - it flew out across the marsh in a big circle and returned to the same pines! Sue Bryan came and joined me for a chat and whilst there, two birders walked into the carpark and kindly told us there was a Hoopoe along a grassy track the other side of a gate, half way down the Firs Road! Off we shot down the road! I phoned Eddie to let him know, (who hasn't got a pager anymore) who was watching the Desert Wheatear at this point. Anyway, got to the area where the Hoopoe was seen and guess what, it was out of view. We had missed it by minutes! In fact it stayed out of view for the rest of the day!!!! A few lucky people had seen it and one man showed me a record shot on his camera - see here. Dawn Balmer had found it apparently - congratulations! Lots of people stood there until dusk in hope of seeing this bird, but sadly it didn't appear again. I was bored with waiting and went off to the NWT Forestry to find something exciting, but only came up with lots of blackbirds, robins and hedgesparrows and masses of magpies. I returned to watch for the Hoopoe again with others and saw 4 Barn Owls hunting around the marsh and a Pipistrelle Bat. Whilst standing there, news came through about a Pallid Swift at Hunstanton this morning and also 10 Waxwings that were seen by the Hun Bridge at Holme at 3pm - nice late news now its dark on both lots of birds! A swift sp. has been seen the last couple of days at Hunstanton and had been ID'd as a Common Swift and now apparently re-identified as a Pallid. But is this the same bird? Possibly another swift that actually was a Pallid!!! Well, its gone now anyway, so we may well never know! I also heard through the grapevine, that there is a residing 'Red Bishop' (obviously escaped) in Hunstanton at the moment, that has been frequenting the same garden, but recently has been touring the rest of 'Sunny Hunny' – this morning it was seen in a small bush on the cliff top - how awesome is that!!! See pictures etc here on: birdforum.

Got chips from 'Sunny Hunny' on the way home.

Dog still barking.........

Desert Wheatear, Holme.

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