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Monday, 30 May 2016

Bank Holiday Birding – Holme, Titchwell RSPB & Beyond in Wintery Conditions!

Very Blustery at Titchwell beach!
If I had wanted to book two weeks holiday in the winter, I would have booked December NOT May!!!

Today must have been the poorest May Bank Holiday for rare birds EVER! The strong northerly winds continued to batter Norfolk today and with increasing strength in the afternoon.

I see there are a couple of cracking pictures on Birdguides of the Red-breasted Flycatcher taken yesterday at 11.30am! I presume these were taken by the finder and congratulations to them for finding the only good bird in Norfolk over the entire weekend! Such a pity though, that it took so many hours for someone to clarify the identification, resulting in the news going out approximately 7 hours later and at a time that was impossible for many to come and enjoy this fabulous bird. Pity P.E wasn't around to ID the picture!

Today's Birding!
Arrived at Holme village car park early morning and sat in the car to watch the scrub for any migrants – nothing terribly exciting, but Chiffchaff, Whitethroat, Blackcap, Robins, House Sparrows, Great Tit and Goldfinches. I then walked up to the main beach gap to search the sea-buckthorn and found Linnets and Reed Buntings. The peace is later shattered by armfuls of dogs being walked – yapping, barking, scrapping and owners shouting, car doors slamming – time to go!

I stopped at my Mother's house to cook a vegetarian breakfast. Mother's hip/leg is now so bad, she can hardly walk, but if I mention the doctors I get shouted at! There was no news either way on last night's Red-breasted Flycatcher on the pager, so I presume either not seen or departed. I head to Titchwell RSPB, just in case the news hasn't been put out and was intrigued to see if it was still there. No other news on the pager at this point.

 Titchwell Beach

Titchwell RSPB car parks were pretty full with day trippers, rather than birders I noticed. Anyway, along the main path, I reached the brackish marsh to find a handful of birders hoping and waiting for the RBF to appear. I heard that apparently one birder did see the flycatcher this morning, but no one else had. I stood here for a quite a while in the cold winds, trying to stop the scope from being blown over as I scanned the bushes! I saw the briefest of glimpses of a small bird under the line of my scope when scanning, but no idea what is was. I gave up and headed to the sea. It was exhilarating on the beach to say the least! There was a serious sand storm going on and the sea was ferocious! Also tons of foam was being whipped across the sands, which reminded me of the foam being scattered over the sands at Blakeney Point, when walking up/back for the Alder Flycatcher twitch in 2010! I hoped that J.M et al wouldn't get me up there today! Blakeney Point would have been an atrocious walk in these winds. I took some arty farty pictures on the beach and then departed quickly. With no shelter or windbreak here, the winds were too strong to scope the sea, seriously!

Walked back along the main path – no positive views of the RBF from the small crowd there, so I headed back and walked around the Fen Trail. Heard a Cetti's and a Sedge Warbler and that was about it. Met another blog reader, nice to meet you. Bought a hot cheese & onion pie and left.
Stiffkey Churchyard
The view from the stone wall in Stiffkey Churchyard

Next stop was Garden Drove at Warham – parked up on the concrete pad and found that Eddie M. had just worked Garden Drove and found 'nowt' of note, so I didn't bother. The sea was rolling at East Hills – can't imagine anyone silly enough to go out there today! I decided to look for sheltered spots to find some birds and for a change went to look in Stiffkey churchyard – I had never been here before, its a beautiful place and the view from over the old stone wall at the back of the churchyard was lovely. I watched two Common Buzzards gliding on the wind over the tree tops. Also saw a Great Tit and a Robin in the churchyard. Long grass and flowers with a few mown paths – just how a churchyard should be – an idyllic place to stop.

Parked up at Stiffkey Campsite car park to walk the clifftop wood. Lots of campers and people around with dogs. Change of plan..... I had a wonderful sleep in the car and woke up an hour and a half later – lovely! Still nothing on the pager for Norfolk, no birds at all.
Lupins and Rhododendrons at Friary Hills

Ox-eye Daisies at Friary Hills

Friary Hills at Blakeney – I can't remember the last time I'd been here and I had a wonderful walk around the hills, enjoying the ox-eye daisies, vetches, lupins, rhododendrons, the gorgeous yellow flowers of the laburnum tree, foxgloves etc – no birds at all apart from Woodpigeons and Mute Swans on the marshes. I was impressed to see that no dog walkers had disobeyed the 'no dogs' sign whilst I was in there – made a nice change.

Walsey Hills NOA produced a Cetti's Warbler, a couple of Chiffchaffs, Chaffinch and a male Blackcap. Bumped into Steve G. and had a birdy catch-up. I then finished the day at Coastguards with Eddie M and another man called Matt who reads my blog, nice to meet you. Saw a few Gannets gliding in the rolling waves and three Kittiwakes flying west and then another one later on and a Fulmar flew west fairly close in. I noticed that James M's car was still here, he would have had a gruelling walk back from BP!

It was dreary and tiring driving home. Hoping to visit Father tomorrow morning. The weather looks pretty bleak for the rest of my holiday with continued north winds for the rest of the week and then turning North Easterly/East on Monday/Tuesday when I return to work – typical!

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