Sunday 1 January 2012

New Year's Day in Norfolk

Oh well, it's 2012 and as we packed up the car for our trip east the first species hit the year list as one of our resident Little Owls called out near The Cottage.  The second species added were a couple of grotty looking street lit Rock Doves..... well feral pigeons as we passed through a spookily quiet Leicester City centre. The third addition was way more beautiful as the spectral form of a Barn Owl flailed across the A47 just before Uppingham.  As we entered Norfolk a few corvid species and winter thrushes were also picked up under the first sunrise of the new year.

We made the mistake of making yet another unsuccessful diversion around Wolferton for dodgy hybrid pheasants but with more curb-crawling weirdos around than the red-light district of Amsterdam we did one almost immediately.  I toyed with the idea of calling in at Sandringham to drop off a 'Get Well Soon' card for Prince Philip but as a staunch Republican I thought it would be a little hypocritical. We eventually pulled into the car park at Titchwell RSPB and a few more common species were wrapped up including an obliging female Great Spotted Woodpecker.  Around the visitor centre a mixed flock of various Redpoll and Goldfinch were located high up in the alders but it was not until they dropped down to a lower elevation that we could start grilling them properly.  Eventually the paler and slightly bulkier form of a first winter COUES'S ARCTIC REDPOLL was located amongst the 15 dowdier looking Lesser Redpoll.  There was also at least one Mealy Redpoll with the group as they commuted between the picnic area and the visitor centre.        

Coues's Arctic Redpoll
Titchwell RSPB, Norfolk.
Photo by Sean Nixon
Coues's Arctic Redpoll - Titchwell RSPB, Norfolk.
Photo by Ray Purser
Coues's Arctic Redpoll - Titchwell RSPB, Norfolk.
Photo by Ray Purser
Other highlights around the reserve were European White-fronted Goose (2), Egyptian Goose (2), Pintail (male), Little Egret, Marsh Harrier (2), Avocet, European Golden Plover (800), Spotted Redshank (3), Common Snipe (3), Black-tailed Godwit (8), Ruff (12) and a single Dunlin amongst the usually encountered species.  Feeding along the beach there were Grey Plover (3), Bar-tailed Godwit (2), Knot (3), Sanderling (34) and Turnstone (16) whilst out on the sea we managed to pick out European Goldeneye (7), Red-breasted Merganser (2 males), Red-throated Diver (2), Great Crested Grebe (5) and Slavonian Grebe.  On the way back to the visitor centre for a civilised lunch, the unusually tame Water Rail performed well for the aviarazzi in a ditch just a few feet from the public footpath.

After a period of fine dining we bid farewell to Mike Feely and his Nottinghamshire crew. They were off to Cley for some rarity action whilst we decided to concentrate on quantity rather than quality.  It was New Year's Day and we needed to beat him in the numbers game.

Our next stop was the Choseley area where we added various farmland birds to our day list including Grey Partridge (3), Red-legged Partridge (10), Stock Dove (4) and Yellowhammer (12). We then drove the short distance to Holkham Hall where we were lucky to flush a Woodcock from the leaf litter and pick up some much needed woodland specialities such as Treecreeper (4), Nuthatch (2) and Marsh Tit.

We finished the day back at Titchwell RSPB and as dusk descended upon us we enjoyed the spectacle of ten Marsh Harriers in their pre-roost display as well as a calling Cetti's Warbler.  We finished the day with a pretty impressive 95 species, not bad considering our late start and relaxed approach. Oh and Feely and company finished with 87 species..... West Midlands 1 East Midlands 0.

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