Tuesday, 4 January 2011

Further On Down The Road - Eric Clapton

After a much needed and comfortable nights sleep, I arrived at breakfast to the strains of Carlos Santana's classic 'Smooth' closely followed by the weather forecaster predicting icy rain. That didn't develop but the day was mainly grey with just a couple of sunny spells and up here there's no getting away from the cold even though what wind there was came from the south. However, further north things had not been quite so kind as Yorkshire, and more pointedly South Cave, had experienced heavy overnight snow, precluding my mate Jim the Medic from getting here to annoy me for a couple of days. The adage is true, "it's an ill wind that doesn't blow somebody some good". Don't forget to get the wine in the post mi lado!

The advert had said that the breakfast would be large, but gargantuan would have been a better description and if I'd seen the notice in the dining room I may well have stayed in my bunk.

Today the plan was to venture a little further afield and follow up on some reports I had received both locally plus by text from Sheila Edwards and Paul Harris. That would involve a fair bit of driving firstly to Cromer at the north east tip of Norfolk, and then south along the east coast with a few sorties inland. On the way there was chance to take a look at some of the villages, including a browse around the streets and in some cases inside and outside of the churches. As an example the village of

is typical, and though no larger than a hamlet as with other Norfolk towns the

church is of monolithic proportions. The large Essex churches I know were founded on the Wool Trade, and I would suspect that many of these here were financed by agriculture.

Happisburg also boasts a lighthouse, and it will be interesting to find out, when I visit them next week-end, if the Lifton's (lighthouse twitchers) have seen this one, I suspect they have.

Stopping for just a cursory look to see if the Waxwings had returned to the feeding place of yesterday, found they had not but soon after the first 'covey' of

Red-legged Partridge came into view. Fairly confiding getting the car into the farm gate was vantage point enough to rattle off a photo or two. Further on down the road,

Horsey Mill hove into view, probably the datum for those seeking Common Crane but despite a prolonged search there seemed to be none today. That was unfortunately the same with 'birders'
which is often the best way to locate these large but oh so elusive Stork like creatures, but there was still plenty of time.

Unlike Horsey, which remains pretty much in tact from when it was a working machine, many of Norfolk's abundance of windmills have been converted to private dwellings of business premises such as this one.

Up ahead there were half a dozen Swans in a field, which around here often means the truly wild version, but again unfortunately they were Mute Swans. and on the subject of agriculture there is none more prominent than

Sugar Beet which is grown in thousands and thousands of acres, then

transported to the factory by huge lorries (this is just one of the smaller ones) where it is

stored and processed in these massive silos.

Eventually I arrived at Cantley and as there was no school today took advantage of their car park. Not totally sure of my next direction I stopped a driver arriving at the same park for directions. He too had come to twitch the same bird, so we made for the marshes together where we came across a group of birders purposefully looking through their telescopes. There were in fact 2 birds of interest, both being Geese

and this photograph taken looking across the railway line to the marsh where they were shows them quite adequately! A Bean Goose (of the Taiga sub-species) is second from left while the Lesser White-fronted Goose is directly below the right hand window of the cottage in the distance. Of course with a 'scope you could almost see them better than this. However, for those with failing eye-sight here are a couple of photies I've blagged from Wikipedia for illustration.

Taiga Bean Geese

Lesser White-fronted Goose

Cantley was the furthest south I was to reach today, and as I started north other Geese on view while heading for Wroxham Broad were

Greylag Goose (already seen in Dorset) and on departure as I rounded a bend there were

c2 Egyptian Geese, looking every bit as though they had just flown in from Cairo, feeding in a field close to the road.

My information told me that there were potentially c2 male Smew at Wroxham something I haven't seen since one on Radipole lake in the late 70's, and would, if seen, likely be the bird of the day?

One was there alright, but like so many of today's quarry, at great distance - keep looking it's there!

Even 'blown up' it takes a bit of seeing, but it did take pride of place but almost lost out to an adult, female Hen Harrier, at point blank range alighting from a field as I was driving, the likes of which I had not beheld before! Continuing to gather information 'on the hoof' as it were, I learnt of a mixed herd of both

Whooper and Bewick's Swans

in roadside fields between Catfield and Ludham only a few minutes drive away. It was felt well worth it to publish

these 4 panoramas as it really was a sight to behold,

the highest total of both species I have ever witnessed together.

There were Bewick's there, honest

and among the throng, of what were about 300 birds, a few juvenile Whoopers.

Last port of call, Hickling Broad, was also a last attempt to see

Common Crane. This is the traditional roost site, where a specially raised observation mound has been constructed, for these birds as it is for up to an estimated 100 assorted Harriers. My best count of the Harriers in the air together was 16 but many more were appearing and disappearing so impossible to tell just how many. The decision was to stay until last light, and in the gloom hope was fading but a Merlin that arrived and perched in a tree was something of a bonus. Others were not so patient and had already left leaving just 7 of us as c17 then c3 straggler Common Cranes flew in from the east, past about half a mile away from us before fading from view. Man, what a finish to another remarkable day.

With 9 additions the 2011 Great Britain List now stands at 131

There was intent to describe the place I am staying, which I can tell you after one lovely night, is great. At some stage I'll get around to that but it's getting late and I could do with my cheese sandwich and glass of Wincarnis - so Good Night!

Yes I know the Clapton classic is Further on 'UP' the Road but that didn't seem to fit.


  1. An interesting narrative Bagsy; nice to hear of our wonderful county from the perspective of a non-local. If you re-check the first photo of the ducks at Wroxham Broad you'll see that the 1st winter drake Scaup is in there; it's to the right of the Smew and immediately left of a sleeping drake Pochard...

  2. Thanks for being in touch James. and I agree Norfolk is a Wonderful county - flat but diverse. I didn't see a Scaup but 3 of us on the viewing platform were discussing a 'hybrid' of sorts, but didn't make a lot of it. I have a feeling you have young eyes, mine are just reaching 65 years (and that's both of them). Thanks again, Yours aye, Bagsy