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Sunday 13 November 2011

Spectacular Morning!

Greenland White-fronted Goose
The Saltings, Holme.

I didn't get up as early as planned, as I needed as much sleep as possible. It was a gloriously beautiful day and I tried to blot out the fact that I had to be at work for 2pm!

Hunstanton Lighthouse
I arrived at Hunstanton Lighthouse just after 9am and parked by the remains of St Edmund's Chapel. A good place to start I decided, just in case the 'Pallid' Swift was still cruising round - but no swift sp.'s were seen at all. Lots of action in the lighthouse garden though – blackbirds, goldfinches, greenfinches, house sparrows and robins. I photographed a female blackbird eating hawthorn berries by the clifftop and also a house sparrow, who posed for a picture. Opposite the lighthouse on the pitch 'n' putt were 28 Curlew feeding, along with a few oystercatchers. I had left the scope in the car and asked another birder who was sea-watching if the birds I could see sitting distantly were Eider – they were indeed. I returned to the car to get the scope and went back to scan the sea. I was gobsmacked when I realised there were a huge number of Red-breasted Mergansers on the sea – my initial count was 11, which I thought was brilliant in itself, but further counts resulted in a massive number of 32 Red-breasted Mergansers!!!!!!! all sitting on the sea, along with 1 Great Crested Grebe, 2 Tufted Duck, 4 Drake Eiders and a Gannet flew east. I have never seen this many mergansers together before – it was simply magical! No sign of the 'Red Bishop' I mentioned in my post yesterday. The birder who had been seawatching told me that some friends of his had just seen the Hoopoe again at Holme! This was where I was going next anyway. Also the Desert Wheater had not been seen at Holme today at all.

Update: there was I, thinking how brilliant it was to have seen 32 Red-breasted Mergansers until I read on Birdforum this evening, that someone else had seen 40 and in the same spot!!!!! See here.

Holme NWT Reserve
Along the Firs Road, I noticed the owners of the standing caravan (opposite Sandy Ridge) were in their garden so I stopped to ask them very politely why they had cut so many of their trees down and the man replied 'watch this space'. As the youngsters say 'whatever'!!!!! I complimented his 'patch' and said those trees had been there a very long time and did he realise how many rare birds had been in there over the years - he replied 'we had a hoopoe in here this morning, so we can't be doing too much wrong'. Passing Robert at the pay hut, he told me that the Hoopoe had gone south-east over the pay hut, not west, as on the pager message. Parked by the 5-bar gate and worked the NWT Forestry hard, to find this hoopoe. I walked all the way to the far bunk houses and back again. In the gorse opposite Gore Point I had lovely views of a pair of Stonechats - the female being ringed, I noticed. Also a good number of greenfinches and goldfinches here, a few robins, blackbirds and wrens. I ticked off a dog walker - a couple with dog off lead and said they should 'have their dog on a lead on the reserve' and pointed out where the public footpath was. They replied 'we are local' - I replied that 'the warden would be less polite if he saw you' - they replied 'we know the warden' - at this point I gave up - another pointless 'dog' conservation! Back up on the pubic footpath I bumped into Sue Bryan and Andy B. and asked them if they had seen the hoopoe - they had not, but pointed out a Greenland White-fronted Goose to me in the lagoon, seaward side (The Saltings) which I got a few pictures of. Andy B. told me that the large number of red-breasted mergansers I had seen had been there for a while. Just before I got to the car a local birder very kindly let me look through his scope at a lovely Short-eared Owl sitting in the fields by the marshes. Left at 12.45pm to start work in Lynn at 2pm. I made it back in time - just!

DUSKY WARBLERS reported at Blakeney Point and Horsey today!!!!! The Horsey bird being found by Graham Etherington - see picture here.

UPDATE - 19-11-11: Robert Smith very kindly let me know that the day after I saw the White-fronted Goose in Gore Point channel at Holme, it was sadly found dead by a local birder, but was confirmed that the bird was of the Greenland race! Thanks Robert, for letting me know.