I was going to start off with the Marsh Warbler at Narborough, but had to do a mini shop for Mother and decided it was best to get the shop out of the way with, in case something mega turned up. I would love to have got up and gone out at dawn, but I just didn't have the energy. So the day started with Sainsbury's in Hunstanton – delivered shopping and sat with parent's for a while and tried to cheer Father up, who understandably looked tired, fed-up and sad. He did listen and look quite interested when I told him all about my Unsprung night, the Paddyfield Warbler and all the megas in the UK this week. I suddenly found the morning disappearing fast. It had been raining continuously and looked set for the day.
I fully expected something else big to turn up on Blakeney Point today, so that's where I headed next. As I turned into Beach Road to go to Coastguards, Julian B. was waving in his car, just behind me! On reaching Coastguards the rain was still falling steadily. Julian persuaded me to walk to North Scrape with him to look at the White-rumped Sandpiper, which I did. The bird was distant with Dunlin and Ringed Plovers. David Norgate and his brother then joined us. A male Red-backed Shrike bleeped up on the pager at Blakeney Freshmarsh. I left and walked back through the yellow-horned poppies and other plants and flushed Meadow Pipits and Reed Buntings.
Re-located to Blakeney Freshmarsh and parked the car by the entrance to Friary Hills NT. I walked along the lower path (as Eddie M. had done a little while before me). Several wet and bedraggled Meadow Pipits, Skylarks, a Wren and Greenfinches, but no sign of any RBS. I could see Eddie standing with another birder distantly and suddenly noticed him waving at me and pointing to a Spoonbill that was flying east over the path. I joined Eddie and he hadn't found the shrike either. Julian B. also joined us a bit later, having walked along the sea wall. I walked back to my car alone and had a Bearded Tit bound across my path into the reed bed. Sedge Warblers were singing and also saw a couple of Little Egrets east of the path.
I walked all round Friary Hills, just in case the shrike had re-located, but no sign. The foxgloves here all looked beautiful and everything looked very fresh and green with the rain. Apart from a Whitethroat, I didn't see anything else of particular note. Eddie told me that the rain was supposed to stop around 6pm for the rest of the evening.
Back at Coastguards I had a coffee and packed up my rucksack. Still raining! I started walking to Blakeney Point at 4.40pm. I headed through the sueda bushes to search for birds and in any case it was high tide, so no point in hoping for flat beach to walk on! I flushed several Reed Buntings and good numbers of Meadow Pipits. Eddie texted to say that the rain was now going to carry on until 10pm! A pager message bleeped up with news of a Female Red-backed Shrike at Walsey Hills! Bother sprung to mind! The skies looked bleak and the rain had beaten me! I felt very despondent and fed-up. I had no enthusiasm for continuing this dire walk at all. Very unusual for me to turn back so early, I had only reached half way to Halfway House! But this is where I turned and trudged back glumly along the shingle to Coastguards.
Walsey Hills NOA.
At Coastguards I bumped into Eddie who had just been to Walsey and there was no sign of the Red-backed Shrike – he was now heading to North Scrape to see the White-rumped Sandpiper. I was soaked, cold and very down in the dumps now. I went straight to Walsey Hills car park. Changed some of my wet clothes to try and warm up, poured a coffee and sat watching the rain pelting down. I wasn't going home yet, as James McC.'s car was still at Coastguards! He was bound to find something else if I left! A few minutes later Walsey Hills Volunteer Warden David Bratt appeared and cheered me up with news of the Red-backed Shrike, which was sitting on the elders and brambles over the other side of Snipe's Marsh. I was so cold, I didn't really want to get out of the car, but had to obviously! I managed to get some video of this lovely Red-backed Shrike who was very busy feeding, but for a while got fed-up and huddled under the canopy of a bramble and looked like I felt! Julian B., Richard M., Trevor D., Eddie M. and a few others turned up to enjoy the shrike. I walked along the bottom path at Walsey and also went to the top of the steps, but only found a Chiffchaff. Everyone left and I was just about to pull out of the car park, when the pager bleeped up with BLYTHE'S REED WARBLER at Halfway House, Blakeney Point at 8.07pm – FOR GOODNESS SAKE!
I found myself driving to Coastguards. Got out of the car and scanned over to Halfway House and had extremely silly thoughts about walking there and then my sensible head kicked in thank goodness! I'm guessing that James had found/ID'd this bird and he would now be heading back, so no point in me even thinking about walking out there this late to find an elusive bird in scrub! Now, if I had persevered and carried on to Halfway House earlier, I might have been watching a Blythe's Reed Warbler, but I didn't so live with it Penny. Drove home in heavy rain. Took ages to sort all my wet gear out – work tomorrow.