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Saturday 27 October 2012

MEGA!!! Hornemann's Arctic Redpoll!!!


Today didn't go to plan at all. An expensive start to the day and a magical end!!!

I went to bed far too late last night and equally got up far too late, so late I don't want to confess how late! So that completely messed up my early morning sea watch. I decided not to get down in the dumps about it and carried on with other stuff I had to sort aswell. Went to Holt to buy a boot jack for my East Hills wellingtons. I can't get my size 4 1/2 wellies off without a boot jack and I broke the cheap one I had, the last time I tried to get the boots off! Popped into Holt and bought a new one from Bakers and Larners. There was no news on the pager of the Little Bunting that would have been nice to see today.

Next stop was CleySpy to look at their range of coats. I don't know why I bothered trying on other makes, I knew I would succumb to the Paramo Halcon Jacket. This coat is awesome. Yes it costs an absolute fortune, but when I stood at Cley Coastguards later, I couldn't feel the cold or the wind and its not a thick coat either! I was wearing a long sleeved thermal, a Montane Featherlite Smock (which is silk and wafer thin), a fleece over that, the Paramo and I was toasty warm! I was also very tempted by a secondhand pair of Swaroski bins EL 8.5x42 whilst I was there. I wondered why my Leica BN 8x32 bins misted up when it rained, when one of the Cleyspy guys told me I hadn't got any coatings on one of the lenses at all!!! I hadn't even realised. I am seriously thinking about buying these bins, just waiting for them to find out how old they actually are, so I know how much warrantee is left. I was quite shocked to hear the new Swaros only have a 10 year guarantee - that's absolutely crap for the money you have to pay for the new ones! The Swaros I liked were obviously heavier than my Leicas, but they were just awesome! I was a seriously long time in the shop and sat outside in the car for a long time, trying to decide about these binoculars before I left. The Little Bunting had now been seen again, I noticed on the pager. I wanted to see this bird, but I also wanted to go sea watching, so off I went to Cley. I wasn't at coastguards very long. Said hello to Pete S. and Eddie - had just set the scope up when the pager bleeped up with Hornemann's Arctic Redpoll! John F. phoned me to say I needed to go and see it as it was described as stunning bird by birders on site. So packed up stuff in car again and went to Holkham. Just by the sluice along Beach Road, Cley a couple of birders had seen a single Shorelark, but it disappeared just as quickly when I got out of the car to look!

I broke my rules about paying at Holkham, didn't have much choice really! Drove right up the top of Lady Anne's Drive and paid £3.00 for two hours parking and walked as fast as I could. Directions to the bird: Follow the path west from Lady's Ann's to Washington Hide (on right) and then take the boardwalk path that goes to the beach, when the path splits off left through the pines, follow this and keep walking until you reach a path forking off right, back onto the dune side. Cross over the dunes and (downhill) to where there are a couple of pines and sea buckthorn and the bird is feeding on the short, mossy grass/dune area. Wow, this bird was spectacular and reminded me of one I found on Fair Isle before breakfast one morning in 2005 (I think it was). It was raining heavily at one point whilst here and I was exposing my new camera to the rain again! I made sure I didn't expose it too long though! I must get myself one of those waterproof covers! I note on Birdforum there are reports that photographers flushed the bird for people arriving later. This was NOT the case at all. I saw the HORNEMANN'S ARCTIC REDPOLL at 4.25pm and watched it until 4.50pm. I photographed this bird along with others. It wasn't bothered in the slightest by people taking photos, in fact sometimes it was too close to take a picture!!! Every so often it would fly around the back of the dunes and then a minute or two later, fly back to right in front of us. It was busy feeding all the time and was very chilled. In fact it was so chilled it behaved as if alone! Not once did it appear startled, in fact it was one of the most relaxed, 'not bovered' birds I have ever seen! Its probably just settled down for the night. The light was going pretty rapidly as I left. I can assure everyone that no photographer upset this bird whilst I was there. Arriving late in the day to see a bird is often a risk – it happens to us all! I think there was approx 20 people max there - didn't really count, but certainly not more.


The light was going, but I was determined to end my day with waves crashing on the shingle at Cley. As I arrived Pete S. was just leaving and had had some really good birds after I left earlier, including 10 Little Auks (I think he said), a long-tailed duck, red-breasted merganser and other stuff I can't remember now. Eddie M. saw 10 Little Auks, 2 Great northern Divers, 2 Pomarine Skuas, a Long-tailed Duck, a Woodcock and a Long-eared Owl in off the sea. I stood on the shingle next to the crashing waves and soaked up this magical scene as the moon appeared from behind black clouds. There was tons of foam scattering across the shingle and this reminded me of the atrocious walk to Blakeney Point to see the Alder Flycatcher – the worst walk to BP ever, which I am sure some of you will remember only too well! Had a coffee and drove home.

Main Highlights in Norfolk – RBA
LITTLE BUNTING, still at Burnham Over Dunes
Siberian Stonechat at Eccles
Black Guillemot at Lynn Point, King's Lynn
Sabine's Gulls at Holkham
Grey Phalarope at Titchwell
Shorelark at Salthouse
LITTLE AUKS and other seabirds along the coast (will add on Sunday night)