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Friday, 30 March 2018

Golden Egg Hunt & Birding – Brancaster to Burnham Overy Staithe & RBA Bird News!

I felt quite excited about finding a 'golden egg' along the coastal path. See my post on Wednesday. I had already emailed the manager at the White Horse to be kindly informed that the eggs would be hidden along the coastal path between Titchwell and Burnham Overy Staithe. Now, the official coastal footpath runs inland from Brancaster to Titchwell and I suspected that none would be hidden there and that they would be hidden along the more well known footpath along the seaward side. So I decided to start my search and birding at Brancaster. I got up far too early after a busy week at work, but decided to make the effort!

I arrived just after dawn and parked my car along the road next to the gates at Brancaster church. I searched the churchyard just in case! With camera bag, food and drink for the day, I set off. I made the mistake of wearing my Muck Boots, which became very heavy later and also brought my walking stick (only ever used for walking out to East Hills) to poke about in the vegetation for eggs! I headed north along the road to the beginning of the coastal footpath and walked east along the boardwalk, with reedbeds and marsh on my left and scenic coastal homes on my right. The weather forecast was incorrect and it wasn't long before the sun appeared and it turned out be a beautiful day, with no rain at all whilst I was out, which was very lucky as the walk from Burnham Deepdale to Burnham Norton is bleak and very much out in the open!

I looked hard for eggs to begin with, but the novelty did wear off eventually and I decided it was more productive to 'look up' as David Lindo says, than to look down. I kept alert though and poked about in little places where I would have hidden an egg – obviously the Easter Bunny didn't think as I did! But this was the question, who else was in the know and were all 30 eggs actually hidden? Or was the entire thing just good advertising and marketing for the pub? Well, yes obviously it would bring customers to the pub! Anyway, forgetting about eggs for a moment, the biggest surprise today, was the lack of birds – in fact it was sadly shocking. After all the miles I covered, I expected a good variety of birds and hoped for some early migrants too, this was not to be. I didn't even bother to write in my notebook!

I walked from Brancaster to Brancaster Staithe Harbour, then to Burnham Deepdale (where I stood and watched my first Snowy Owl on 9th March), then along the exposed and bleak sea bank around Burnham Norton Marshes and then onto Burnham Overy Staithe and part way to Burnham Overy Dunes, then turned back south to the main road and caught the Coast Hopper bus back to my car at Brancaster. See the X's on the map marking the start and finish of my route.
Boardwalk between Brancaster and Brancaster Staithe

House at Brancaster Staithe just before the harbour

Between Brancaster and Brancaster Staithe I saw very little indeed, aside from a few gulls over the harbour, a single Blackbird and a couple of Long-tailed Tits, I didn't even see a Robin! The walk was beautiful though and it was good to be out in the early morning light. I half-heartedly searched the harbour area for golden eggs and then continued east on to Burnham Deepdale.

The walk along this next stretch is particularly scenic and looks potentially brilliant for migrants, with large landscaped lawns of huge properties which look good for wagtails and hoopoes etc! Walking past the back of the White Horse pub, made me pause and wonder if there were any eggs hidden in the actually pub? Turns out that there was I found out later! I didn't see a single Stonechat on my very long walk, which I was very surprised by.
The bleak sea bank from Burnham Deepdale to Burnham Norton

Burnham Norton Marshes

From Burnham Deepdale along the sea bank, I did see a couple of Reed Buntings, but that was all. There were however, good numbers of duck on the marshes including Wigeon, Teal, Shelducks and also small numbers of Avocets and several gulls. I didn't see a single Marsh Harrier, but did see a Barn Owl at Burnham Norton on the path that runs south. At the end of the long walk to Burnham Norton I sat down to have late breakfast. The grass was soaked, but I had waterproof over trousers on so all was good. My legs were beginning to ache – its a long way in wellies! I really regretted not wearing my walking boots, but too late now! I then heard a text pinging through – it was from my friend and work colleague Jane Veall – the text read... 😊👍 This could only mean one thing! I phoned her straight away to find out that she had found an egg!!! Jane had found it hidden under an old tyre, just north along the sea bank at Burnham Deepdale! I don't even recall seeing a bl**dy tyre! Miles and miles I had walked, not an egg in sight! Oh well! At least someone I know had found one, massive congratulations Jane!!! Her prize was 'drinks for four'. I ambled along the path south and heard a Cettis's Warbler at the corner, just before I crossed the field adjacent to the windmill.

I then walked along the edge of the field (still on coastal path), then along the main road and and onto the harbour at Burnham Overy Staithe. I searched under bits of wood and other objects, but no eggs found. I also peered inside every lobster pot on the quayside, still no luck with golden eggs. I then continued north along the sea bank to Burnham Overy Dunes, but my body and mind were failing. I rested on a couple of seats and when I reached the corner (see X on map) along the path which I would normally join from the main road, I realised there was no way I was going to make it out to the dunes. So I headed back south along my usual path to the main road, passing the 5-bar gate and over the stile. After looking at the bus time table on my phone, I realised that if I stepped up my pace, I might be very lucky and catch the Coast Hopper bus that was due in a few minutes time. I may not have been lucky with eggs, but was very lucky with the bus! It was running approximately 10 minutes late and after reaching the main road, I only had to wait a couple of minutes! It was a joyous sight seeing that bus I can tell you!

The journey on the bus was the noisiest one I have ever experienced – a large group of young girls and lads were making a terrific noise as if in competition with each other. Shortly after they got off the bus at Burnham Market, the bus driver turned around smiling and said 'thank goodness for that'. When I got off the bus at The Ship pub at Brancaster it felt difficult to walk the short distance to my car next to the church – I suddenly felt very old! It felt so good to back with my car. Took the wellies off, changed my socks and put my walking boots on. Sat in the car and had coffee and sandwiches. The road was jam-packed with cars and I'm sure my space would be filled quickly when I left.

For a last chance of finding an egg, I decided to drive along the coastal path that runs inland of Titchwell – an area I never explored I'm ashamed to say. The road runs just west from the B1153 in Brancaster. Not far along the tarmacked road, it became a track and then continued for a good way and then deteriorated! In hindsight, I should have turned back, but carried on. I really don't know where I ended up, but eventually arrived in Thornham. I  then went to the 'The Green' and sat on a seat for a while in case this morning's Ring Ouzel was on view – it wasn't. I then went to the boathouse at Thornham Harbour to sit for a while and then visted my mother in Holme.

I collapsed on the sofa at 2.30pm and apparently I was asleep on the sofa for three hours!!! Eventually I returned home to King's Lynn, absolutely cream-crackered! I don't think I will be doing too much tomorrow!
Today would have been my parent's 54th Wedding Anniversary😢



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Glaucous Gull flew over Wymondham
Water Pipit at Titchwell RSPB
Ring Ouzel at Thornham
Spoonbill at Whitlingham Country Park
Spoonbills x 2 at Hickling Broad NWT
Black Redstart, Velvet Scoter at Waxham
Spoonbills x 3 at Burnham Overy Staithe
Spoonbill, Hen Harrier, Water Pipit at Cley NWT
Spoonbill south of Gramborough Hill, Salthouse
Black Redstarts x 2 east of pier at Cromer
Black Redstart at Beeston Bump, Sheringham
Caspian Gull, Garganey, Grey Plover at Potter Heigham Marshes
PARROT CROSSBILLS x 4, possible at Horsford Common
Spoonbills x 4 at Buckenham Marshes RSPB
Bittern on marsh at Holme
Hawfinches x 6 at Lynford Aboretum
Lesser Spotted Woodpecker at Santon Warren, Santon Downham
Shorelarks x 9 at Holkham

Musselburgh Lagoons, Lothian, Scotland

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