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Monday 26 July 2021

Western Sandpiper at Snettisham RSPB & Pacific Golden Plover at Burnham Norton!

2nd for Norfolk at Snettisham RSPB
Dunlin in background
Better late than never! Sunday I was working and Saturday..... anyway, I arrived at Snettisham RSPB just before high tide, well only just before! There were far more birders here than I expected for a Monday. Stood with others trying to locate the Western Sandpiper amongst Dunlin relaxing behind a shingle ridge – so only some were on view. Heard two Turtle Doves purring, both seen in flight and saw a Little Egret perched in a tree. A birder pointed out a juv. Med. Gull sitting close in on the sea, which was cool to see. We waited and waited. The tide turned and the Dunlin flock still didn't move much. A bit later, suddenly, some of the Dunlin broke away and a few scurried east towards us and then, the Western Sandpiper came into view! It was more or less directly in front of us and had fabulous scope views! It was a bit too far away for my 300mm lens though, but managed to get a few shots. Smaller than the Dunlin – a very smart bird with its arrowhead markings on upper flanks and moved very quickly to feed – a fascinating bird!

I saw the first Western Sandpiper for Norfolk on Saturday 2nd December 2011, which Mark Golley found at Cley NWT – also see initial finding/ID here on 28th November 2011.
Snettisham RSPB

The Western Sandpiper then flew with the Dunlin flock further north across the mudflats and was still on view, but distant now. Thousands of waders on the mudflats and lots of Sandwich and Common Terns, but no Roseate Terns whilst I was here. Nice to chat with Ray O'Reilly about Shetland! Also bumped into local birders Mark and Tracy B., Les B. and others. The walk back to the car park was unexpectedly hot and muggy and this was not what was forecast for today!

Holme NOA & Holme Dunes NWT Reserves
Headed to Holme to collect NOA's new publication: "The Birds of Holme Bird Observatory 1962-2020", which has kindly been dedicated to my parents. There are a few pictures I submitted and also several of my father's photographs taken from NOA Bird Reports etc. Stupendous drawings from Dave Nurney supplement the systematic list. I will enjoy reading this when I have some time over the next few weeks. If you would like to order a copy, here is the link on the NOA WEBSITE.

Chatted with Sophie for a short while in the baking heat – my father would have loved it! Me? Hate the heat! Lots of beautiful flowers in abundance, also Painted Lady and a Small Copper, but too hot to appreciate everything. Made my way back to the NOA car park. Photographed a Red Admiral on the Buddleia outside the Firs House – there was a Comma too, but it flitted off before I had a chance to photograph it. Chatted with Gary H. and Theo C. and then returned to my car. Both car parks were jam-packed full of holidaymakers. Grasshopper Warbler reeling and seen just behind the NOA car park, thanks to a couple of birders close by. The Firs Road is atrocious, even in first gear, particularly at the start of the road by the horse paddocks!
Red Admiral at Holme Dunes NWT
Burnham Norton
Headed east to Burnham Norton. Parked up in the car park and walked in sticky heat, to try and find the Pacific Golden Plover. Walked along the western (lower) path and then climbed up on to the sea wall and headed south – about half way along (ish) were a small group of birders, who had been here for over two hours and had only just seen the Pacific Golden Plover fly in, where it was feeding at the back of a pool, very, very distantly! I felt very lucky it was on show straight away for me! The distant photo below is also massively cropped!
Burnham Norton

I continued to walk along the sea wall and returned to my car. The sea lavender looked so beautiful, mixed in with reeds below the path. Saw a Little Egret, a Reed Warbler and Goldfinches, but not much else. Back at my car I felt exhausted. A couple who had just arrived (after seeing my tweet that the PGP was showing), informed me that they had seen the White Stork at Ashwicken this morning, so this is where I decided to end my day. No news of the White Stork on the pager today. Several Swifts in the village as I left Burnham Norton.

Parked up in a small rough parking area, by the horse fields just off the B1145 opposite the road "Brow of The Hill" between Bawsey and Ashwicken. I regretted this big time and I would not advise doing what I did at all! It was seriously dangerous to pull out from, to get back onto the B1145 – I had to wind both windows down and listen for traffic very carefully, as I couldn't see left or right of me without pulling out a little way onto the road. I won't be parking there again! Plus there was no sign of the White Stork at all, several Jackdaws, Rooks, Egyptian Geese and a Jay amongst the 70 plus horses in the fields. Returned home. Still no thunderstorms here to break these humid conditions.


  1. Some great birds as ever. You are some birder!

  2. Were fantastic views as bird decided to walk along the shore. Great Pics.