Monday, 2 January 2012

Three Friends - Gentle Giant

A thousand apologies for the lateness of the Post this evening, but it has been one of those all too infrequent days when all the pieces of the jigsaw fit perfectly and the puzzle is completed in super quick time. Another sparkling day when the bright and dazzling winter sun did me no favours (if I wasn't looking into it I was driving into it but shouldn't complain), with a clear sky gentle breeze but temperature a little lower than of late and we were travelling much further afield.

From Blakeney you have to drive through Wells next the Sea to get to Holkham, and with 3 species of Grebe there in the past few days it would have been fool hardy to pass by. Only Little was in view, so Great Crested & Red-necked will have to wait, but in very quick succession

Great Black-backed Gull

Dunnock (photo taken later in the day) and

Shag were all added to the Year List, which I should rally call the January List given the 200 target.

The welcoming sign at Lady Ann Drive, but I was sorely tempted to append "Now Get Your Hand In Your Pocket".

Here there were bigger fish to catch, but the 3 images show what is known as

Holkham Gap and the vastness of the

Seashore, Beach, Salt Flats and Sand Dunes and what I was alone in looking for was tiny and among this lot.

Yes, before you start I know I said wild horses wouldn't drag me back here, but it was Hobson's Choice (which also refers to horses) so reluctantly my £3.50 went into the machine. 2 hours was never going to be enough to find these 2 species, but within 15 minutes a flock of 50 or more Snow Buntings flew directly over my head but never closed to withing photo range. The same could not be said of

4 Shore Larks

which at least had the decency to allow a few images. With plenty of time in hand a wander down towards the hide where we had heard Jays a few days ago met with success, the bonus being a fine pair of Bullfinch. Sculthorpe was next on the planned route, opting for the country lanes in pursuit of either or both species of Partridge.

Spotting these 2 Mistle Thrushes having a spruce up, I decided to divert down this farm track where there were a flighty covey of a dozen or so Grey Partridge and 5 Stock Doves all additions.

At the reserve Water Rail was not at all difficult but once again there seemed to be a huge lack of other birds save

this small squadron of Long-tailed Tits.

Before leaving the hide I caught a glimpse of a movement under the bird table which turned out to be one of

a family of at least 3 Wood Mice, thank you very much. These join the other 4 mammals, Rabbit, Fox, Grey Squirrel and Brown Hare already on the list. From there it's only a 10 minute drive to Old Holt Road, probably better known locally as 'Fly-Tip Alley', where I had the best 'tick' so far.

Dave & Mo are regular Spring or Autumn migrants to Portland and such a great surprise to see them looking for the

Great Grey Shrike, as I was. It seemed it had been chased about a bit today, but decent enough views were had before we said our goodbyes and I headed for Buckenham some 25 miles further south. An absolute maze of narrow country lanes at Strumpshaw I thought I'd taken a wrong turning, but with another reserve there certainly worth a look I continued. Rounding the last bend of the muddy track, there waiting for me just yards away were this pair of

Egyptian Geese. To be honest, this was a species I was getting worried about as usually common on the North Norfolk Coast none had been seen there by those I bumped into. Even better, I found this was the best way to the next site and even witnessed the novelty of level crossing gates being opened by a lady for vehicular access across the main train line. The jigsaw was now well underway, and next I stopped to enquire about Bean Geese of a fellow who had them in his 'scope and invited me to look. At the hide, down a muddy farm track, there were 2 lads from Lincoln seemingly waiting for my arrival so they could show me the

Lesser White-fronted Goose (photo 'borrowed' from the net) among the Beans and about 20 Barnacle Geese bringing up the 100 for the month.

In addition, this Stonechat kindly flew in, perched on a gate post and then flew off not to be seen again.

Next, an altogether taller order was to find

a place I had not visited before also via a labyrinth of lanes and tracks and a Great Spotted Woodpecker en-route.

Yes, you've guessed it, there on the raised viewing platform were my 3 new amigos with the 1st winter female Ring-necked Duck (picture also from the web) in there 'scope and with no need to ask - thank you and see later photograph. They then told me that they were about to head for

Hickling Broad

which made life so much easier for me only needing to follow them. From there we walked the half mile or so to

Stubb Mill, Raptor Watch Point and Common Crane Roost. On arrival I took a photo of my Three (new) Friends, then simply did a full sweep across the reed-beds in, diminishing light, and counted 38 Marsh Harrier in the process.

2 Common Cranes were already in and at some distance, but as with the 2 Merlins they were well seen via the telescope. Best wishes to everyone I have met today, thanks for the help and if you're heading for Dorset send me an e-mail.

The List Now Stands At 108

No comments:

Post a Comment