King's Lynn Drainage Board
'Hardwick Farm Flood Storage Area'
For the last few months I have been pondering about how to access this new area. Along the bypass that runs to the Hardwick roundabout there is a relatively new, small roundabout, which gives access to the new Sainsbury's store. After you go over this roundabout (heading for large Hardwick roundabout) you catch a tantalising view of what seems like hundreds of birds on a new reservoir, over on your left hand side. You only get a few seconds view though and you can't stop to get a better look! Very frustrating indeed. Further along however is a pull in parking area – but you can't see anything at this point! I didn't want to attract attention, so didn't bring my 'adult' scope (for the amusement of the Cleyspy team), just my Nikon ED50 in a rucksack and my bins. I then walked along the grass verge which was pretty dangerous with all the traffic rushing past at 60mph+ until I reached a gate, fence and sign stating very clearly 'STRICTLY PRIVATE' and 'NO UNAUTHORISED ACCESS'.
Anyway, without going into the detail I would like to on a public blog, I found a different route to get to the reservoir to survey the site! On close inspection, this is like a mini Breydon Water!!! The water levels are perfect for birds, with graduated shallow muddy edges at the fore front and sandy banks/edges at the far side!!! Also large areas of muddy stretches in the water made a fabulous feeding/roosting area. Birds seen here were: tons of Greylag Geese, 2 Egyptian Geese, lots of Jackdaws, a Crow, a single Cormorant, a single Black-tailed Godwit, 2 Green Sandpipers, 1 Greenshank, 3 Ringed Plovers (1 juv.) in the sandy area, 20+ Lapwings, lots of gulls including Black-headed Gulls, Herring Gulls, Lesser Black-backed Gulls, Great Black-backed Gulls, Mallards, Teal and one Little Grebe. 2 Common Buzzards were spiralling overhead in the thermals and a Yellowhammer flew across into a hedge. So an excellent list of birds here! It was insanely hot today as yesterday, the August heatwave begins!
There are big boarded signs stating no access etc all around the reservoir itself, but there seems to be what looks like a public track above and alongside this and then running towards the A47. So after taking lots of pictures of the site, I spent a long time following this track towards the A47 to find an access point. I found a family of Common Whitethroats in a hedgerow on route and lots of black Water Boatmen sparkling on the surface of the water in a dyke below an old iron bridge – Amphibious Bistort was in abundance in the very clear water too. I then walked under an underpass bridge (very dodgy here!), which goes under the A47. Walking under the bridge, brings you to a wild area of grass and thistles, teasels etc which was rich with butterflies. The only access I could find was to climb up the embankment of the underpass and view the traffic! So, you could access the reservoir from here if you could find somewhere to park near the slip road to the A47. This underpass is immediately underneath you, as you turn onto the A47. I think there is a parking area further along on the right hand side, but it would be extremely dangerous to walk back along this road to climb down the embankment. Also this embankment/underpass is not exactly the most inviting/friendly of places to be walking under! I will email the King's Lynn Drainage Board to ask them if there will ever be any public access for birders, so will feed back to you all when I get a reply.
My car was still in one piece when I returned. The traffic was at a standstill with day trippers, so much so that I had no choice but to head in the opposite direction into King's Lynn town centre. Visited my sister Lucy for a short while and then headed to Thornham in hope of seeing the Ospreys that had been seen at Titchwell RSPB and two at Thornham Harbour including one watched eating a fish on the marsh! Diverted through Ringstead, when I eventually got as far as Heacham and headed along the back roads and sat and had a very late salad lunch on the side of the road next to the Thornham Reservoir (no access here either!). Well....... its only a few yards from where I was parked, so went to have a quick look and found a family of mallards, 1 Little Grebe, a few Black-headed Gulls, Woodpigeons and a couple of Sand Martins flying around. The view of the coast from this road is spectacular indeed, you can see the sea east and west of you from here including Holme Reserves, Holme and Thornham churches!
At Thornham Harbour I bumped into Mike Sidwell, who was NOT seeing any Ospreys, much to both his and my disappointment. I spent a long time scanning the marsh for an Osprey devouring a fish, but no sign and obviously not in the skies as all the birds would have been up. Several smart Grey Plovers, Golden Plovers, Common and Sandwich Terns, Curlew and the usual Cormorants, Little Egrets and gulls out on the mud flats. I also looked hard for a Caspian Tern, but no sign of any orange bills!
I re-located to Greenway at Thornham and walked around the small copse to the old duck shooting pond in case the Osprey had hidden itself here, but only Coots and a Little Grebe were here. Walked back to my car and went to visit my parents. Father was in a difficult mood, sadly and it was hard to talk normally to him today. Cooked the garlic bread (one left over from yesterday's barbecue) for Mother and I and then spent the evening at Titchwell RSPB in hope of a roosting Caspian Tern.
Hundreds of Dunlin, but wasn't able to count them accurately as they kept being disturbed, also hundreds of Avocets, Spoonbills x 18+, one Little Gull amongst the Black-headed Gulls, Herring Gulls etc, Green Sandpipers x 2 calling and seen, a few Spotted Redshanks, Black-tailed Godwits, Curlews, Lapwings, massive Starling flock, Redshanks, Teal, Pied Wagtails. A Hobby shot through and disturbed everything in seconds! Very late evening a Caspian Gull landed in amongst the Herring Gulls which was a nice bonus. Several Little Egrets around too and Cormorants in the dead tree roost and a Barn Owl was seen briefly on the way back. I thought I caught a glimpse of a Short-eared owl over by Thornham Point, but couldn't be sure. It was completely dark as I put my gear away in the car!
On the way home I had a Little Owl fly across the road at Thornham (up by the reservoir), another seen along the Ringstead road and a Barn Owl at the Sedgeford road junction, before I headed towards Heacham. So all in all, an excellent day, but disappointing I missed the Ospreys.
PICTURES AND VIDEO TO BE ADDED