21 May 2012


Fresh back from a Norfolk trip  where we had a brilliant if not cold couple of days. Meeting up with Pod and Mark Payne at 03.00 Saturday morning we set off in rain and generally poor conditions. Starting on the Brecks we got good views of Golden Oriole at Lakenheath Fen. With a supporting cast of Barn Owl, booming Bittern, Garganey, Hobby, Marsh Harrier and Turtle Dove this is a superb reserve. I remember going here to see the Orioles as a kid in the 70's before it was taken over by the RSPB. Who'd have thought then that such a fantastic reserve could have been created from carrot fields!

Brilliant stuff and after brewing up and getting the frying pan on for bacon butties in the car park we headed off to search for Woodlark, Firecrest and Stonecurlew nearby. Success on all fronts!

Reserve manager Dave was so impressed with the smell of baco nhe came over for a natter. He was even more impressed whe nwe offered him one complete with brown sauce. We go prepared us Cheshire lads!
Brewing up in the Brecks whilst watching 70 + Crossbills. The idyllic scene only ruined by dick-heads on dirt bikes roaring up and down.

With time creeping along we decided to forgo the scrum at Strumpshaw for the Savi's Warbler - none of us needed it as a lifer and viewing was difficult. Setting of for our campsite at Stiffkey we got the tents up and set off looking for a Red-backed Shrike that had been reported just a few hundred metres from where we were staying. Brief and unsatisfactory views were had of the Shrike but news that a Red-spotted Bluethroat had been seen in the same area had us searching to no avail. Deciding the crowds were probably putting it off we decided to head back to the tents and get the kettle boiling for a brew with the view of trying again once the crowds had died done.

In the meantime Alan Northern, Mike Stokes and Dave Western had joined us from Shropshire. They headed off for Cley where they jammed in on a Bluethroat from the Swarovski hide. We headed back to the dunes where we missed the Bluethroat by seconds! We did re-find the Red-backed Shrike though much to the delight of the late arrivals as it hadn't been seen for a few hours and had moved from the seaside gorse to an inland hedge. The news was put out that it was a 1st summer male but I'm not sure its not actually an adult female.

Another good bird but with stomachs rumbling and a thirst to quench we headed for the chippy and then the Red Lion for a few beers to celebrate Mr Payne's birthday. Knackered from all the fresh air and walking we hit the tents and all had a good nights sleep despite the cold.

Sunday morning broke with a slight improvement in the weather so we headed down to the marsh before breakfast but it soon became obvious both the Shrike and Bluethroat had done one. Once again we brewed up and got the bacon on the go before heading to the infamous Beach Hotel where we intended trying for the other Bluethroat. News of a Beeeater nearby soon put paid to that plan and we set off just in time to see it fly off!

Digi-binned shot of two of the Temminck's Stints from Dork hide

Plan A came into effect and we set off back to Cley where the Dork hide provided good views of Temminck's Stint (5!) and at least 6 summer plumaged Curlew Sandpipers. A try for Nightingale proved unsucessful and we decided to have another look at the Beeeater that had been relocated at Glanford. Wow!

By now we were flagging and decided to head slowly for home in Cheshire and stop at Doxey Marshes in Staffs to have a look at the singing Red-spotted Bluethroat if it was still there. A quick phone call to one of Staffs finest, Phil Locker, and we had all the directions.

Just as we'd set off a phone call from Mike Edgecombe had us heading towards Warham Greens where a first summer male Red-breasted Flycatcher had been located. We were really close and within 10 minutes we were watching this with three others before the rest of Norfolk caught up with us.

By now fatigue was seriously catching up with us and we headed west to pick up the A14 and then the M6, stopping only to refuel booth ourselves and the car.

We arrived at Doxey around 18.00 to find about 20 -30 people viewing a tiny wet patch of ground surrounded by a cycle path and footpath on two sides and fences o nthe others. Sure enough there was a stonking male Red-spotted Bluethroat puffing his chest out and singing, albeit quietly. What an end to a fantastic couple of days.

No comments :