Shock, horror! That’s two weekends in a row with no new birds for the year list. Stuck fast on a measly 309, despite our best efforts today.
First stop was a look for the Dusky Warbler at Gunton on the edge of Lowestoft – we gave this about three hours before giving up, though suspecting the bird might still be lurking in the vicinity. A male Dartford Warbler showed pretty well, calling frequently. Some of the birders present could even hear it. Sadly, our suspicions were proved correct when the warbler was reported again about two hours after we’d left. “Bother!”… or words to that effect.
By the point of botheration we’d reached Holkham, where JL was oddly keen to see a white goose. We’d seen hundreds being fattened up for Christmas along the journey, but apparently these weren’t any good?! After we heard that the bird was still present, Mr L was out of the traps towards the Washington hide like a Whippet leaving me staggering under the weight of his hot drink supplies. Fortunately, when I caught up, the white morph Greater Snow Goose was still showing well. An escape, obviously. Unlike the one I saw the week before, which was clearly wild. Oh, who cares… it was pretty smart, and a few thousand wild geese are a superb sight and sound anyway.
Next stop, Holkham Bay, looking for Shore Larks. We’d both seen one a week or two earlier, but they’re great birds that have been in short supply in recent winters. We found eight pretty easily, on the saltings about 1/2 mile east of the gap, just south of the creek that runs east/west. Cracking birds, though less photogenic than the Snow Bunting, seen at Gunton earlier.
Finally, we headed back east to Cley, hoping that the recent American Golden Plover would grace the reserve to roost at dusk. Sadly, this wasn’t to be, and late news of the bird from Blakeney harbour didn’t help. Still, I love this part of Norfolk on still autumn evenings as the sun goes down. At least three Marsh Harriers floated above the reedbed calling to each other, periodically spooking the massed duck and waders – hundreds of Teal, Wigeon, Lapwing. We helped a couple of people see Water Pipit, Spotted Redshank and, much to their delight, a ghostly Barn Owl hunting in the gloom pretty close to us.
Who cares about a ridiculous tick-list anyway?