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Wednesday, 22 May 2019

Hot Birding at Weybourne, Wells, Warham Greens, Wells, Holkham, Burnham Norton & Holme!

One of two at North Point, Wells-next-the-Sea
Found by Eric Thompson

I felt so excited to be out SO early this morning. I arrived at Weybourne just before 5.30am and parked by the cemetery on the main road. As I walked north along the track past the windmill, there were two Whitethroats singing on the telegraph wires, along with several Swallows and Sand Martins by the coastguard cottages. The light was beautiful and I had a spring in my step, as I headed east along the clifftop to see the Red-spotted Bluethroat and attempt to take some better pictures than my record shot on Sunday evening. The Sea Thrift, Bird's-foot-Trefoil, Plantain and other flowers, were a mass of colour all the way along the cliff top – it was a beautiful walk and I was at this moment, the only person here! Fulmars glided past every now and again and Sand Martins continually skimmed over and along the cliff top. The sound of the sea crashing on the shingle beach below was magical. Skylarks and Meadow Pipits were singing, no other sounds, no barking dogs, no people shouting, bliss!
Windmill at Weybourne

Coastguard Cottages at Weybourne

Sea Thrift along Weybourne Cliffs

Bird's Foot Trefoil along Weybourne Cliffs

The cliffs were ablaze with wild flowers at Weybourne

Stonechats at Spalla Gap, Weybourne

I reached Spalla Gap at 5.50am and fully expected to see a singing Red-spotted Bluethroat in full view on a bush or one of the hay bales on the pill box. But, there was no sign, no sign whatsoever! Another birder turned up a short while after me to 'film the bluethroat'. He was out of luck too! I kept putting updates out to RBA to let people know it wasn't here to save them the long walk. But, I didn't even think about giving up, until about three hours later. Several smart Stonechats were along the hedgerow that runs south to Dead Man's Wood (strictly private), along with Linnets, a Wren and Whitethroats. A Wheatear appeared later on in the ploughed field, just east of the hedge that runs south and I also heard a Green Woodpecker close by, but couldn't locate it! 2 Mute Swans also flew over west. I now felt really down in the dumps, hardly any sleep, over an hour's drive, long walk and no bluethroat!

A man walked up from the beach to chat to me (one of two official people) and to ask what I was watching..... he was collecting palm oil from the beach of which he said, was 'all the way along the beach'!!! Eventually I gave up at 9.15am and ambled back slowly along the cliff top. Just before the windmill, the pager bleeped up at 9.38am with "2 Black-winged Stilts at North Point, Wells" – my spirits lifted! Walked faster to my car than I had intended and headed west to Wells. Every car in front of me was driving SO slow!
Slade Marsh, Wells

I was surprised to find a space in the small car park by the track at North Point, Wells! Steve G. was of course on site long before me! It was so exciting and wonderful to see these spectacular Black-winged Stilts feeding in the shallow pools of this incredible site. Probably the best new wetland area in Norfolk in my opinion, far better than Titchwell or Cley to be honest and everyone else I speak to agrees. There is one problem though, people seriously need to think about how they park, to allow maximum cars into the small car park. All the cars on the left side today were parked sensibly next to each other, but the cars parked on the right side (alongside the hedge lined field) were parked one behind the other (bonnet to boot) which mean't only 4 cars could park here – if people had parked next to each car, you would have got double the amount of cars in and more! Please park sensibly for others.

North Point, Wells-next-the-Sea

Anyway, besides enjoying the spectacle of these amazing and elegant birds, I met several more blog readers today – nice to meet you all! It was also pointed out to me that the author and journalist Simon Barnes was here. Lots of birds on these scrapes including Avocets, Little Egrets, Heron, Shelducks, Mallards, Redshanks, Mute Swans, Brent Geese etc. Marcus Nash called out that a Quail was singing, I heard it as he said it – it wasn't heard calling again, lucky me! I walked back to my car and got the picnic table and deckchair out and had my lunch, whilst watching a very bright, smart Yellowhammer perched on the fence rail. Walked back down the track again to watch the Black-winged Stilts and at 2.10pm, they both flew east over the track onto the pool (Slade Marsh). They were continually harassed by Black-headed Gulls on this side, so they probably won't stay there very long!

I left and went to Garden Drove at Warham Greens and had a short nap in the car on the concrete pad. I then walked down the tree lined track to the copse at the end, where I found a Chiffchaff, Chaffinches, Goldfinches, Blue Tits and Great Tits. Lots of squealing pigs in the field west of the track. A Common Buzzard flew over, but nothing else of note.
Forget-Me-Knot flowers in Wells Cemetery

Wells Cemetery

Wells Quayside for fish 'n' chips! It was now so hot, I wanted to sit somewhere cool. I parked the car in a lovely shady spot by the cemetery, opposite the co-op and enjoyed my tea! I then decided to look in the cemetery for birds as it looked potentially brilliant, with lots of mature sycamores and other trees, including a large holly bush. Found a male Blackcap high up in one of the sycamores, Blackbirds, Chaffinches and Wood Pigeons, no Collared Flycatchers at all! The Lamas were sunning themselves in the large paddock, adjacent to the cemetery.

I returned to North Point, Wells for another viewing of the Black-winged Stilts. It was nice to bump into James M. here with his now not so little daughter! The stilts were still here on the west side of the track, but at just after 6pm they vanished and myself and another birder simply couldn't find them on the pool. I rang Ashley S. as I could see his tour vehicle still in the car park and  he told me that he and James M. had watched them fly high west, so that was that! There was a Whimbrel on the far end of the pool, east of the track.

I headed west and tried to work out where the Stilts would be heading next. I stopped on a high point of ground at Holkham to scan the large area of pools at the west end of the pines. After careful searching through my scope, 2 Black-winged Stilts came into view, flying left and appeared to land! I phoned RBA to let them know that I had re-found them, but then didn't see them anymore. I don't know if they were hidden from view or if they had continued west? So, my guess would be Burnham Norton, or it could be Holme maybe? Or maybe double back to Wells! Tomorrow will reveal all!
Red-legged Partridge at Burnham Norton

I stopped and parked up at Burnham Norton, but decided my body and mind was too tired to go and look for Black-winged Stilts! A Common Buzzard was perched on top of a telegraph pole and a Marsh Harrier flew over the reed beds.

I continued west to our family home at Holme. I have not been to the house for a week and a half and all the big pots of plants at the front of the house, desperately needed a good watering. Back and forth with the watering can so many times and I then cleaned all the bird pools out. Heard a Cuckoo across the horse meadow. The grapevine in the greenhouse has sprung some bright new leaves! Vivien and I had thought that we had killed this off last year, through us over watering it. I sat in the garden for a while and became very upset. I do wish someone would buy our house – breaks my heart, every time I have to come back here, so many thousands of memories, so sad. Everything about this garden is my mother, every plant, every inch, every nook and cranny. My father only really had control of the greenhouse and his two moth traps, he wasn't allowed to do anything else in the garden, it was very much my mother's domain! I left Holme at 9pm!

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