News of a Hoopoe on the pager this morning in a field near Norfolk Hospice at Hillington, lifted my spirits when I looked at the pager at lunchtime! There were no further updates since the intial sighting at 9am this morning, by the time I finished work. Hillington is only up the road from me, so it was worth going to look for obviously. Stifling hot at work, what a change from last week!
I cooked a quick stir fry quorn vege tea and then cruised over to Hillington to look for the Hoopoe. I don't really know Hillington at all – I pass through it enough times on route to the coast, so I should do really! I headed straight for Norfolk Hospice, which is situated at the end of a road with locked gates across and I couldn't see any short turfed fields close by, only some grassy patches in the large car park. Hmmmmm...... drove around the residential roads to find lawns and fields! Met a nice lady in a close, who told me she was a birder, but she hadn't heard anything about the Hoopoe.
Went down a small side road off the B1153 and found a large field behind a tall gate. I spent a while scanning this field, but it didn't look perfect Hoopoe habitat – grass a bit too long really. I then got chatting to a really nice couple who lived in a house close to here, who told me that the Hoopoe had been sitting on their TV aerial at 4pm!!! They very kindly took my mobile number and said they would ring me if they had any further sightings. I searched the churchyard and then followed the bridleway sign path alongside a fabulous marshy field behind the church – it looked perfect habitat for Bee-eater and Red-footed Falcon! Willows in the middle of the marsh/field, stream/dykes running through and telegaph wires overhead! There were lots of House Martins, Sand Martins, Swallows and Swifts skimming over this marsh – it was a beautiful sight. I also saw a Green Woodpecker, a Kestrel, Mistle Thrush, Robin, Greenfinches, Goldfinches, Linnets, Blackbirds and Housesparrows. Hargreaves Plants Ltd, Church Farm is adjacent to this marsh.
I searched the churchyard again on the way back and then returned to Norfolk Hospice where I bumped into Chris Ward with camera in hand also looking for the Hoopoe! Returning to the side road and field, I chatted to the couple again and was chatting about birds etc when another birder turned up..... Trevor Girling! Back at the churchyard again later and chatted to a local man by the gate who was just leaving Church Farm (I think) and with Chris Ward, we listened to him talking about 'a crazy twitcher' he knew, who goes miles to see rare birds..... Scotland etc and watches them for 10 minutes and is off again, he laughed. When I asked who his friend was, he replied 'Justin Lansdell'!!!! 'I know Justin' I said!
Continued to look on grassy lawns for the Hoopoe and then lastly back to Norfolk Hospice to find Chris, Trevor and another birder looking in hope. But by this time we had all lost hope and departed!
I decided to spend the last moments of light at Abbey Farm Bird Hide at Flitcham. A Little Egret flew across the fields, pair of Shelduck with young, Oystercatchers, Lapwings, Jackdaws, Tufted Ducks and that was about it really. There was lots of vegetation covering the usual Little Owl perch in the bottom of the oak tree, so didn't know if it was there or not. But, I was delighted to see the Little Owl fly across the field into the usual Oak Tree just before I left! Nice end to the evening, but it would have been much nicer if the Hoopoe had revealed itself too. As Trevor said, it was in someone's garden, somewhere in Hillington this evening!!!