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Friday, 23 April 2021

Spring Birding: 12 Hours, from Holme to Holkham!

Holme Beach
After a poor night's sleep, I arrived at Holme at just before 8.30am. Parked by the 5-bar gate along the Firs Road and then walked along the back of the bungalows towards the village car park. It was a stunningly beautiful day, but the east wind kept everything fresh! 2 Little Egrets were on the Saltings, along with some Shelduck and 2 Avocets. At least a couple of Whitethroats were seen and heard singing in the scrub alongside the coastal footpath and also a Chiffchaff. Last night's Grasshopper Warbler was also reeling again, just before the little foot bridge into the car park. Some House Sparrows were in the brambles by the cafe in the car park. Lots of dog walkers out and and about and people playing golf.
Village car park, Holme
Seat area by the village car park, Holme
Walked along Beach Road towards the Hun Bridge. Along here I saw a Song Thrush in a small horse paddock, 2 Green Finches at the top of a tree, Goldfinches and a Cetti's Warbler burst into song just west of the bridge. Walked east of the bridge along the narrow footpath that follows the River Hun and horse paddocks. Heard my first Willow Warbler along here! 2 Swallows flew over and there were several Blackbirds in the paddocks. A Mistle Thrush was sitting on the grass, like it was frozen in time – it was very peculiar! It was looking upwards to the sky and stayed like this for a good few minutes before it moved, even slightly! There was also a Hare crouched down low behind the Mistle Thrush, also frozen in time and trying very hard to look like a lump of mud! Had my first Speckled Wood butterfly by the wooden footbridge and my first Reed Warbler singing and also Sedge Warbler, another Cetti's Warbler and a couple of Wrens were seen. Everything looked so pretty along here and the light was beautiful. At the end of the path by the seat, I passed the NWT pay hut and returned to my car. Had a coffee and a snack.
Path along The River Hun
Mistle Thrush in the horse paddocks alongside the River Hun

A Hare keeping low, in the horse paddocks alongside the River Hun

It was now 10.10am, so officially allowed to go into the NWT Forestry, so off I went along the boardwalk which had several dollops of dog crap along, lovely, not! In the forestry, I saw and heard a Cuckoo flying across, a male Stonechat and a Chiffchaff – that was it. Over the marsh I watched 2 Common Buzzards, several Brent Geese around, a Reed Bunting and a Meadow Pipit. Returned to my car and drove along the Firs Road to the NOA car park.

Got my deckchair out and had breakfast. Dave Nurney turned up and we had a nice catch up. We heard a Lesser Whitethroat singing, but sadly not seen. It was quite interesting watching a colossal Motorhome attempt to turn into the narrow entrance to the NOA car park – it did succeed and took up a very large space, along with two other 'normal' sized motorhomes – how times have changed! Presumably tomorrow (see here), that won't be happening, hopefully!

News came on the WhatsApp group that Warden Neil L., had seen an Osprey going west over Scolt Head Island, so hopefully it would be heading this way! I stood by The Firs with Warden Gary H. and we waited in hope. We were both stood by the bench seat that overlooks the Broadwater, just in front of the Firs House and were expecting it to fly overhead. Gary very sharply spotted the Osprey flying behind us, over the back of the pines! At this second I hadn't seen it myself, but it then appeared in the gap between pines, which I saw at 12.15pm! I ran up the Firs Road towards the NOA car park (as Gary did) and then ran across to the dunes to try and get a picture. No hope with that! I could see the Osprey in the very far distance towards Holme golf course with an entourage of gulls mobbing it!
Holme Beach
Sedge Warbler singing below Thornham Bank
Worse picture I've ever taken of one, but liked the scene!
The Broadwater at Holme Reserves

Ambled along the back of the pines and to the boardwalk overlooking the Broadwater to 'Post 10' (oldies will know where I mean!) and along Thornham Bank. A Sedge Warbler was singing its heart out in a elder bush, just below the bank. The view here of the Broadwater and the Firs house is an iconic scene, but it doesn't quite look the same now, since the Firs House has been renovated. I could see lots of cows on the marshes towards Thornham, which may have held some Yellow Wagtails, but I didn't have my scope with me, so no point in walking that far. I returned along the boardwalk and in the scrub at 'Post 10', I saw a male and female Blackcap and a Whitethroat. Several Linnets were flying around and I had 2 Swallows fly through east, along with my first 2 House Martins of the Spring, following closely behind them! A male Stonechat was sitting on a bush, a Common Buzzard was over the marsh and a Little Egret was on the Broadwater, along with Tufted Ducks, Pochard, Mallard, Little Grebe and Black-headed Gulls. Also heard some Med Gulls throughout the afternoon.
Common Lizard at Holme Bird Observatory
Lime Tree at Holme Bird Observatory
Shield Bug on the Lime Tree at Holme Bird Observatory

Green Hairstreak on the Lime Tree at Holme Bird Observatory
Broadwater – view from main bank at Holme Bird Observatory

At Holme Bird Observatory, I sat chatting with Warden Sophie for a while in the sunshine and remarked how much my father would have loved to have been sitting here now in his favourite sun trap! The image of his denim shorts and hat, adorned with his blue 'Warden' badge came to my mind! I was SO excited when Sophie and I spotted a fabulous Common Lizard running across the concrete and than settled on the sandstone wall by the obs. door (where they always used to be) – luckily there was enough time to take some pictures! A couple turned up (I hadn't seen them before), who said they had seen a Lesser Grey Shrike!!! at Burnham Overy Dunes on Wednesday (this week), west of the boardwalk, towards Holkham pines. I wonder if anyone else has seen or heard about this? Interesting indeed! I spent a long time trying to photograph a stunning Green Hairstreak butterfly (three in all) in the wind and also a green shield bug on the beautiful lime tree by the main pond. Returned to my car and headed east along the A149.
High Tide at Wells Quayside

At 4.50pm I arrived at North Point, Pools at Wells! Several people here looking at the Jack Snipe, which luckily I managed to see bobbing in the sedge, before it then disappeared out of view, much to the disappointment of newly arrived birders who 'needed' it for their year list! A Whimbrel flew overhead calling, which was nice and the usual waders looked glorious in the light, including vivid orange Black-tailed Godwits, Egyptian Goose, Avocets, Shelducks, Black-headed Gulls, Redshanks, Teal, Mallards etc. 2 Swallows flew over and Meadow Pipits were on the marsh along with several Hares.
Ring Ouzel at Morston Quay
Very distant!

Morston Quay! There have been so many awesome pictures of the male Ring Ouzel here, I just had to see this bird! Parked by the church and walked across the road to the horse paddock – no Ring Ouzel! Only a few Blackbirds and Wood Pigeons. Phoned Eddie to ask advice and he recommended I go to the Morston Quay car park and look in the large field just east of there, so I did. In the middle of the very large field was the stonking male Ring Ouzel, prancing around like he owned the place! Far too distance for any cracking photos though. Met a lady who reads my blog, who was just leaving in her car and was very pleased that I pointed out the Ring Ouzel to her. There was also a Wheatear, Mistle Thrush, Starlings and Blackbirds in the field.
Whimbrel in field just east of Morston Quay
As the Ring Ouzel, very distant

'House on the Hill' at Blakeney – stopped here for a while to see what was in the scrub. I love this little spot and once found (many years ago) a male Red-backed Shrike here. Birds seen: male and female Blackcap, Chiffchaff, Robin, Great Tit, Chaffinches and Jackdaws. A big flock of Brent Geese were on the fields behind the A149. I decided to return to the Ring Ouzel in case it was any closer. The Ring Ouzel had disappeared, but had been replaced with a Whimbrel feeding in the field!

Stiffkey Campsite car park: Marsh Harrier, Little Egret, Brent Geese and Pied Wagtail. I then stopped by a gateway overlooking Holkham Freshmarsh, where earlier I had seen lots of cattle, in hope of seeing some Yellow Wagtails, but probably too late in the day now anyway. Saw 3 Grey Partridges, a Kestrel and a Sedge Warbler was singing in a small reedbed. It was now about 8.15pm, so time to return home!

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