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Saturday 13 October 2012

The Big Search

Miles of walking and searching were conducted today to find that one special bird.

A beautiful, sunny morning with blue skies. Arrived at Walsey Hills at 8.30am and searched in vain for the yellow-browed warbler. 3 Jays flew over west. A few goldcrests were seen and a bullfinch was heard.

At Gramborough Hill I had a wonderful time watching a Stonechat on the fence wire, shortly joined by another (ringed) and then a Whinchat landed on the post too! Hedge sparrow in the bushes and a flock of goldfinches and meadow pipits flying over, but no larger pipits were seen!

Cley Visitor Centre for social interaction! An arctic skua was seen flying west over the shingle ridge from the visitor centre and also a jay and a common buzzard.

I decided to walk Gun Hill, Burnham Overy Dunes and Holkham – there just had to be a good bird somewhere! Parked my car in one of the free spaces near the pub at Holkham and then caught a Coastliner bus to Burnham Overy. Walked along the track to Gun Hill. Blackbirds, song thrushes, robins, brent and egyptian geese were the only birds seen on route. A couple of reed buntings appeared in the sueda just before the brambles at the end of the seawall. In the apple tree (where the Pallas's Warblers were in 2010) a male blackcap was skulking around and also 5 house sparrows. Walked all the way round Gun Hill and the only bird I saw was a kestrel, that was it!!! Not another bird was seen, not even in the bushes on the seaward side of the hill. I sat here to have a coffee and a sandwich – I felt very despondent. Walked back and then through the dunes towards Holkham. The sun had disappeared and rain filled clouds added to the doom and gloom of no birds. At the east end of the dunes just before the pines I saw 11 Redwings fly out of the big hollow and also several blackbirds and song thrushes were seen. Walking through Holkham pines, I saw almost no birds at all. I didn't even come across a tit flock. In fact the only birds seen here were four little grebes in the 'Salt Hole'. My original plan was to walk onto Wells woods aswell, but the massive lack of birds did not inspire me to walk any further, so I diverted along Lady Anne's Drive and back to my car. The sun was shining again, so I decided to go to Warham to the the West Track in hope of seeing one of the two Yellow-browed Warblers reported there. When I arrived on the concrete pad, a lady came across to tell me that there had been a Richard's Pipit at Holme NWT today near to the Firs House. I dipped out on the YBW half way down the track and only saw a goldcrest with the tit flock. At the north end of the track I didn't see the second one either. I returned along the track to my car and did manage a few glimpes of a Yellow-browed Warbler at 5.45pm. It was freezing cold this evening, even with double coat and gloves on. Left here and drove home.

There were so few birds around today, it was quite depressing. I am quite happy to walk alone, but its very lonely when there are no birds to see! So far, this has got to be one of the worst autumns in Norfolk for a while! Although I expect things will change tomorrow when I'm at work! I hope my two days off on Monday and Tuesday improve.

Update: I have just noticed several good birds have just come up this evening on the pager for Holme today including the Richard's Pipit I mentioned earlier a Rose-coloured Starling and a flyover Great Grey Shrike. Perhaps I had better listen to Andy Brown when he said to me the other day 'West is best'!!!

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