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Friday, 19 April 2019

Dawn 'til Dusk Hot Birding at Holme NOA & NWT!

Golf course at Holme


A cracking day, with several finds and a very lucky finish!!!

I cruised to Holme Reserves as a cerise sun was rising – a stunning start to a wonderful day. I drove to Holme via the cliff top road at Hunstanton, to see if there were any Ring Ouzels or anything else exciting – found Starlings, Blackbirds and Gulls – Wood Pigeons were feeding on the Pitch & Putt at Old Hunstanton.
House Sparrow
Beach Road, Holme

Checked out a horse meadow for Ring Ouzels along Beach Road at Holme, none found but Blackcap singing. Photographed House Sparrows at the Firs Road junction from my car. Sat watching the bushes in the village car park for a while and saw several Robins, a Chiffchaff, 2 Hedge Sparrows and 2 Great Tits. In the first paddock along the Firs Road, I found my first Ring Ouzel fem. feeding, along with a Mistle Thrush collecting nesting material. Just past the 5-bar gate I saw my first Whitethroat this Spring, a female Blackcap, Stonechat and a second Ring Ouzel in the field adjacent to the NWT wader pools, just west of the NOA car park. Parked the car up and walked straight across to the beach.
Holme Beach

Pied Flycatcher
Holme Bird Observatory

One of two flying over Holme Bird Observatory

Alongside the Broadwater at Holme Bird Observatory

High tide – a very high tide, the waves were crashing close to the wooden breakers, the beach looked beautiful and was devoid of people or dogs, just me! What a treat, nobody else there but me. A Fulmar flew past, nothing else of note. Walked back and through the pines to Holme Bird Observatory. Black Redstart with Wheatears, Pied Wagtails x 2, Meadow Pipits, Goldfinches, Linnets and a Stonechat on the grassy slope. Female Pied Flycatcher again in the sycamore stump by the pond in front of observatory, but no sign of the male Pied Flycatcher that I saw last night – wasn't seen at all today. 2 Whimbrel flew over west calling and a Swallow flew east. Assistant Warden Gary Elton flushed a Common Redstart along the bottom Broadwater path, but I didn't see it when I meandered along the path. Met some lovely people here and later on, who follow my blog – great to meet you all.
Ring Ouzel
In the field adjacent to the path to the Wader Pools at Holme NWT

Whilst talking to Gary Hibberd NWT Warden at The Firs House, two Sparrowhawks flew over. Had a coffee and a cheese scone by my car and then walked to the NWT Wader Pools to search for yesterday's Garganey. No luck with that at all, however a Reed Warbler was singing near to the last hide. A Common Buzzard, 4 Redshanks and Black-headed Gulls were seen and on the way back a male Ring Ouzel was feeding in the field opposite the first hide. In the NOA car park, Gary H. told me he had just found a cracking male Black Redstart that was particularly striking, by the gate that goes across the road to the golf course by the toilet block. This sounded exciting, so off I went!
Near the beginning of the Firs Road at Holme

Mallard with young
Dyke near the golf course at Holme

Knowing that all the free car parking spots would be full by the toilet block, I left my car half way along the Firs Road near the pay hut and walked along the path round the back of the houses – this path comes out in the far corner of the village car park next to the toilet block and golf course. Nothing of note seen from this path. Searched in vain for the Black Redstart, which was disappointing, but hardly surprising with the amount of dog walkers and golfers here now. My disappointment switched to excitement, as I heard my first Cuckoo calling! I tracked it down a bit later. Before I left, I checked out the bushes that run along the edge of the golf course in case the Black Redstart had relocated to escape the holidaymakers, but no luck. However, I did see a lovely pair of Bullfinches, a Chiffchaff and a Mallard with loads of newly hatched fluffy ducklings, swimming in the dyke that runs alongside the hedge. Also saw Speckled Wood, Orange Tip and Brimstone butterflies.
Ring Ouzel
Horse paddocks alongside the River Hun at Holme

Public footpath alongside the River Hun at Holme

Walked along the road towards the Hun Bridge. In a horse paddock on the left handside I saw a Stock Dove and a Song Thrush. The Cuckoo was closer now, but couldn't see it yet. Walked east along the public footpath by the Hun Bridge and followed this to NOA Redwell Marsh Hide. Alongside this little path is a huge area of horse paddocks, which held horses and a couple of donkeys. I found some cracking birds here: 3+ male Ring Ouzels, 4 Fieldfares, 2 Redwings, lots of Blackbirds, Robins and a Cetti's Warbler burst into song in a bush at the edge of the path. I was just about to sit down to enjoy watching all these thrushes, when an annoying Wood Pigeon erupted from a bush and flushed every bird in the paddock! Found the Cuckoo in the very tall Willow tree and managed to obtain a distant record shot on the camera. Continued to Redwell Marsh and sat in the hide for a while. Male Marsh Harrier, Redshanks x 4, Several Teal here, also Shelduck, Shovelers, Gadwall (1 pair) and Avocets, but the highlight was a Green Sandpiper, which dropped in at the front edge of the pool. Light poor here at midday though, so no good for photography until late afternoon, when sun is behind the hide. Continued along the footpath east of the hide, which comes out just before the pay hut. Saw a Chiffchaff in the tall trees by the standing caravan (as it used to be called). Walked back to my car.

Headed back towards the NOA car park to sit and have a late lunch. Pulled off the road to look into the horse paddocks, just past the 5-bar gate, when a car pulled up behind me and had nice surprise of seeing Ashley and Claudia Banwell and their not so little daughter anymore, Alice! I can't believe how much Alice has grown! Ashley wanted to see Ring Ouzels and luckily, they later saw my Ring Ouzels I had just seen, but they had 4 Ring Ouzels, which confirmed my 3+. Headed to the NOA car park and sat in my deckchair to enjoy my lunch. Nice to bump into Ann and Rob Gordon and also Pat and Geoff Douglas – Geoff had seen a Lesser Whitethroat in the NWT Forestry. A Swallow flew over as I was sitting here. Went to the observatory again and saw the Black Redstart on the grassy slope again. Spent a while chatting to a lovely couple I bump into fairly regularly, called Cindy and Bill (from Bircham). I didn't see the female Pied Flycatcher again, apparently it had relocated to the bushes/tree off the main bank between 2 hides.
Yellow Wagtail
Horse paddocks along the Firs Road at Holme

Short-eared Owl
Hunting along the horse paddocks, Firs Road at Holme

Drove back along the Firs Road and got very lucky indeed! I was driving the slowest I possibly could, so I could look into the paddocks before the 5-bar gate and found a lovely Yellow Wagtail, which I managed to get a record shot of and as I was doing this a Short-eared Owl flew across too and also managed to get on the camera! Parked up by the 5-bar gate and walked to search the NWT Forestry before the 5pm closure. Apart from a large flock of Linnets, I only saw a female Blackcap and 2 Chiffchaffs here. I suddenly felt extremely tired and decided to have a little nap! It was just after 5pm – found a lovely little warm grassy bank, only yards away from nipping back onto the Firs Road – had a lovely little snooze here. No one would see me here, as nobody should be in here after 5pm! I didn't really sleep, just rested my eyes for a while – watched a Hare lollop past me, who obviously had no idea how close I was to him! Anyway, as I sat up from my 'snooze' I glanced to my left and noticed two people walking towards me, which I hadn't expected at all. They were visiting birders, who had no idea they were not allowed to be here at this time – we had a lovely chat when they realised they read my blog! We got back onto the Firs Road and looked for the Yellow Wagtail, but didn't see it anymore, but still several Wheatears here. Suddenly the couple highlighted that a Grasshopper Warbler was reeling close by in a large bramble – I was very worried as I adore this reeling sound so much and at first I couldn't hear it at all – eventually I could just about hear one little burst of reeling. OMG, now my ears have gone! I felt very sad that I could not hear the Grasshopper Warbler in full as I normally would do. Will have to get my ears checked out now! Walked back to my car and was then going to head home.
Holme Golf Course

I decided to have one last attempt to find Gary's Black Redstart by the gate to the beach and golf course. The majority of people and golfers had now left and instantly I spotted an almost black head peeping over a mound of grass just left of the track before the gate that goes across the road – there it was! An extremely striking male Black Redstart – Wow! I spent a long time here photographing this stunning bird. The Black Redstart also flew up to sit on the top of the wire of the protection fence (for golf balls) and against the blue sky, this bird was jaw dropping to say the least. What an unexpected surprise! Saw the couple I had been talking to earlier and let them know and showed them this cracking little bird – they were very happy indeed to see this and they managed to get some pictures too. There were also 6 Wheatears on the west side of the golf course.

Headed to Hunstanton for fish 'n' chips. I was shocked and saddened to see that the trees by the church have been cut down to stumps – why? These have been here since I was a little girl – its looks awful! The queues at each fish 'n' chip shop were quite shocking! There was no way I was going to queue for ages, so went back to King's Lynn and walked into my favourite Fish 'n' Chip shop with only had two people in the queue – result!

Fell asleep at home – completely exhausted. I can't see me getting up at dawn tomorrow, mind wants to, body doesn't. I won't be going through pictures tonight either, sorry, will have to sort through them and add tomorrow.

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