Saturday, 9 October 2010

Norfolk: Hunstanton, Brancaster, Cley and Titchwell

Thursday 30th Sept:

After waking up to sunshine, I initially aimed for the Burnham marshes where I've seen barn owls in recent trips, but they seemed few and far between this time, and a text from Steve confirming the presence of the wryneck at Hunstanton was all it took to tempt me that way, to join them on the cliffs.

We could see the bird easily enough, but it was sat amongst the undergrowth and not really worth a shot. Steve was doing his usual role of a tour guide and helping people see it, so much so, he ended up missing the shot he wanted. The bird burst from cover and landed on a post momentarily. I managed to grab a handful of shots but he only managed one, and the wryneck disappeared from view again.

It's happened to me before so I understand the feelings. You've put in the hours and someone else (me and several other 'togs) get the reward. To try to cheer him up I said I'd find the bird again for him, and walked off along the path. Standing on a bench, I scanned the edge of the clifftop for it through my bins, and was rather startled when I looked down for a second, and spotted the wryneck sat no more than 10 feet in front of me, in the grass.

Frantically I attracted Steve's attention and he was this time fortunate enough to arrive just in time for the bird to pose on another post for a good half a minute, allowing us all to get some great shots. After seeing the one on Clee Hill in the gloom or stark sunlight, this was a welcome change and the pictures are leagues better than those from before.

After searching around again, we briefly located the bird a lot further down the hedge, but dog walkers spooked it again, and with the time for high tide approaching, we relocated to Brancaster Harbour, to watch the waders there.

What a good spot too. You're able to park up (for free) at the very end of the harbour and as the tide comes in or retreats, the birds make the most of whatever mud is exposed. Or, if folks happen to be chucking bread around they surround the cars, which is what happened for us.

Black-headed and common gulls mixed it with the fleet-of-foot turnstones, to grab the crumbs, and provided many photo opportunities from the comfort of the car. Remaining on the mud were redshanks, godwits, dunlins and knots, and nearby a rather hindered looking grey plover with a broken leg, hopped around pulling at worms.

Waders aside, Norfolk of course attracts some rarities, and Steve was keen to get some shots of Lapland buntings over at Cley, so we headed off that way, and it didn't take us long to find one. After the one on Malvern recently, I wasn't that bothered with it initially, but the bug soon got to me, and I was alongside, snapping away. Plus it looked a bit different on the shingle to the grass of the hilltop.

Also nearby were snow buntings, and when the Lapland flew off, we located a lovely male and took some shots of that. Ann managed to get incredibly close to it, though she did have to suffer sitting on a thistle to get the rewards.

To end the day, we shot over to Titchwell again, this time to see a grey phalarope that was apparently "showing well". Problem with such reports is that they are generally written by birders who class "showing well" as being able to see it, which can be 300 yards away through a scope. Not so this time though, and we were very pleased to find the bird virtually under our feet. Too close for me at times, so I had to back away to fit the bird in the shot. Certainly a tad better than the views of the grey phalarope at the Flashes!

A great day ended at the Lifeboat Inn, where we enjoyed a fine meal and ale (mmm, Wherry!), and had a good laugh about events, and planned the next day's adventure.


Steve Seal said...

Glad you kept it clean , nice shots as always mate well done.

Max Silverman said...

Great shots Pete.I went last Thursday for a couple of days and looked for the Hunstanton Wryneck but it had gone.

I see we've both got shots this week in Birdguides review of the week.You are a regular now!!!

Kay said...

Cracking shots of the Hunstanton Wryneck, Pete.