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Sunday, 1 May 2016

May Birding, Mega Month!

Alarm was set pre dawn. I didn't hear a thing. Opened my eyes and glanced at the clock – it was 7.15am. Got out of the door fairly quickly. It was another good day for sunny weather and it felt warmer by the afternoon than it has over the last few days.

Arrived at the Wryneck garden in Heacham, in hope that it would still be around. I waited and waited. Starlings, Blackbirds, Robins and a Mistle Thrush seen. Spoke to the finder who said he had some lovely pictures of the Wryneck, perched on the short chain link posts – I could only imagine! Like most birders, seasoned and new, we all love to see a Wryneck, they are simply fascinating birds. I stubbornly continued to wait. I drove around other roads, peering onto all the short turfed lawns and then returned to the original garden. I fell asleep a couple of times, so I could have missed it!!! After two hours, I gave up.

Dotterels came up on the pager, so headed to Choseley via Ringstead, to search for my own on route. I stopped by a large puddle at the edge of a ploughed field and watched Linnets, Pied Wagtails and a pair of Mallards. House Martins and Swallows were overhead and Grey and Red-legged Partridges were seen. In Thornham village, I took the road signposted to Choseley that heads south and soon found a couple of birders scoping the Dotterels in a large chalky field. A lovely start to May, but as is usual, the 9 Dotterels were very distant – fuzzy blobs through the scope and heat haze! A Wheatear and a few Hares were also close by. Several more cars of birders turned up, including Twitcher of old, 'Big Jake' and his wife. I left and headed to Titchwell RSPB.

I started off with lunch at the 'Feeding Station' and sat outside on a picnic table, which I shared with a biker from Boston, who I had a nice conversation with. I was very impressed that Titchwell is now selling veggi sausage baps, it was very nice, but a bit dry – what it needed was a fried egg – might suggest this to Warden Paul Eele – in fact I'll tweet him now! Met a lady blog follower, who caught me red-handed, collecting my hot dessert and lovely it was too – nice to meet you and to another gentleman later on. Its always nice to meet my readers, gives me incentive to carry on. Whilst enjoying my lunch, it was lovely to watch a Song Thrush at close range and the usual Robins were hoovering crumbs up under the tables. A Hobby had been seen at Titchwell today and M.A.G. had also seen one at Cley.

I suddenly felt very tired – I still haven't recovered from the last few days. I ambled around the Fen Trail at a mega slow pace. Wonderful chorus of birds including Willow Warbler, Sedge Warbler, Blackcaps, Chiffchaffs, Great Tit and Cetti's Warbler. I didn't walk the main path to hides as wanted to go to Holme NWT Forestry before it officially closes at 5pm. Returned to the picnic area and sat for a while, looking up into the tops of the trees for possible Wood Warblers, chance would be a fine thing!

Left Titchwell and went to Holme to visit parents for a short while. Asked Father if he would like to get in the new wheelchair I got him, so I could see if I could get him outside in the sunshine (I requested an exchange for the wheelchair we already had with 4 small wheels, for a self-propelling one, which has two massive back wheels and is much easier to manoeuvre) – Father point blank refused, so that was a waste of time! Headed to Holme reserves.

I had just parked up by the 5-bar gate, to walk to the Forestry, when Dave Holman and his wife stopped in their car and kindly told me there was a Whinchat further back along the road, in the paddocks, flitting about around the grasses. I drove along the road and searched, but no luck with that at all, but did see 9 Yellow Wagtails bounding over Holme marsh. I decided to carry on along the Firs Road, parked on the NOA carpark and then walked back to the NWT Forestry. Apart from a single Willow Warbler singing, I didn't see any birds in there! Nor did I find the Ring Ouzel that was supposedly lurking in the bushes. Bumped into Richard Brooks and his partner Jessica and chatted with them for a while. Richard reminded me about his forthcoming lecture 'Lemnos – The New Lesbos?' on Sunday 22nd May at the Norfolk Bird & Wildlife Fair, which I'll be going to. Richard and Jessica had been listening to a Grasshopper Warbler by the 5-bar gate earlier, but I didn't hear it.

Walked back along the Firs Road and again, did not see the Whinchat! Watched a couple of Chiffchaffs in the large sallows, just before the car parks. Chatted to Warden Gary Hibbard who had been strimming on the reserve. There has been some good clearance work of the buckthorn, opposite the NOA car park and I spent a very enjoyable hour here, sitting in my Skoda Green Hide watching birds appearing in the clearing of Spring Beauty (or button hole flower as its also known). A cute bunny was nibbling the Spring Beauty. Fab views of a Whitethroat, Willow Warbler, Robins, Goldfinches and several Magpies around. Saw my first Swift this Spring, flying over the car park. I fell asleep again! Back along the road I watched a Barn Owl flying over the path to Redwell Marsh Hide and saw several House Sparrows at the entrance to the Firs Road. Drove home in the rain.


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