A couple of years ago, to celebrate my 40th Birthday I thought it'd be a good idea to go to Norfolk for a few days, and share the time with Dad as his Birthday falls on the day before mine. We had a cracking short break and I wanted to repeat the trip, albeit for a week this time.
Instead of staying inland, we decided upon Wells-next-the-Sea as it's a good central location, and has a few decent pubs within walking distance. And after a slightly annoying diversion on the way there, we rocked up at Thornham harbour in good time.
One of my goals for this trip, would be brown hares. After enjoying such fine views of their mountain-based cousins in Scotland, I wanted to expand my portfolio of the introduced brown variety and knew my best bet would involve early starts. I was right, and after a short drive I started to see good numbers in the fields. Getting one close was just a matter of time and luck, and I found one cleaning near the edge of a field.
Another early start had me trying to see if the barn owl out in the evenings might appear in the morning too. It didn't, but I did get to see a few marsh harriers around, plus observed some rather strange behaviour from a brown hare. A wood pigeon had been predated by perhaps a sparrowhawk and the remains with half a pillow's worth of feathers were strewn in the long grass. The hare approached and then proceeded to chase off some jackdaws and a magpie, before returning to the kill, to have a good sniff around it. It then sat amongst the feathers for a good half hour before lolloping away.
Driving merely yards along the road, I joked to Dad that we'd probably see it again, and then I spotted it, sat on the curb of the pavement! Again, before I could get near for a shot it flew, but made us laugh how it was just sitting there, as though waiting for a bus, perhaps.
Becoming a habit now, up with the dawn chorus and out for a longer drive inland. I was looking for partridges and hares, and anything else that might be around at that time. A pair of grey partridges scuttled across the road in front of me, and into a field. I parked and found they'd took flight. However, as I scanned the field to where they'd gone, another bird flew in, with distinctive white markings on its wings. Almost as soon as it landed, it seemed to vanish. My curiosity raised, I scanned the app on my phone for possibilities and the only bird that fitted the bill was a stone curlew.
After returning to base, with it seemingly being a calmer day, we headed over to Cley in the hope it might yield some shots of bearded tits. Calling into Salthouse first, as I wanted to see for myself how much it had changed since those awful floods. Quite a bit, though nature was sorting itself out, and I saw reports later that week of snow buntings being around there again.
The breeze had returned to Cley despite being absent elsewhere, and also from the floods, the reedbeds have been cut back extensively, so finding the beardies wasn't easy. Eventually saw some, but they never landed anywhere stable or visible enough for a decent shot. Plenty of marsh harriers, geese and egrets around, plus waders such as avocets.
Another morning lacking success with the curlews, though the barn owls were as busy as ever. And a ring ouzel also caught my attention before it yawned, and flew off. A much needed sausage bap was the order of the morning at RSPB Titchwell, before I made my way down to the shore, in time for the tide to be retreating. Dad didn't fancy the hike, so stayed around the hides.
Whilst stood waiting, we were well aware of Cetti's warblers calling. They're not quiet when nearby. One seemed to be giving it everything it had from a hawthorn hedge, and another one obviously took offence. Flying in, it stopped on the edge of the bush, paused, burst into song before diving in, and chasing the rival away across the field. And yes, I did manage to get some shots of this.