Norfolk: Day 1

Norfolk ~ 18th - 20th February 2014 ~ 

It seems like only yesterday that I was sitting in the car, watching and photographing Snow Buntings in Salthouse car park at very close range, but that was a whole year ago. In that year I have done so much and a lot has changed; Salthouse car park is now just a mass of shingle, the sand dunes at Titchwell have been pushed back and halved in size and the boardwalk out to the beach has been completely destroyed. As well as this I have travelled to some fantastic locations such as Australia and Hong Kong and seen some amazing birds including European Roller, Br√ľnnich's Guillemot, Splendid Fairywren and Southern Cassowary!

On Tuesday morning we left early in order to avoid the morning traffic. Our first stop was West Stow Country Park where people have been getting amazing photographs of Common Crossbills drinking in puddles in the car park. However upon our arrival we realised that the car park didn't open until 9am. So, we decided to head to Lackford lakes, a short drive away, to see what we could find there.

Our first bird was a Marsh Tit, a great sight considering we don't get them where I live! We spent quite a while wandering around the reserve, seeing and hearing lots of birds which included Grey Heron, Lesser Black-blacked Gull, Cetti's Warbler and Goldeneye. Once we had been round the whole reserve and got back to the car park, we made our way back to West Stow CP.

Marsh Tit (Poecile palustris)
Goldeneye (Bucephala clangula)

At West Stow CP we were really hoping that the Crossbills would come down to drink soon as it was pretty cold and had started spitting with rain. However, after waiting in the cold for a few hours, having only had a few glimpses of the Crossbills and only managing photos of them at the tops of the trees, we headed to a hide where we could photograph birds coming in to some feeders. There was quite a selection of birds including Marsh Tit, Nuthatch, Long-tailed Tit and Chaffinch. After a while we decided to head on to our next stop and as we headed for the car a Skylark flew overhead and we watched a Stoat running around in the field adjacent to the car park.

Nuthatch (Sitta europaea)
Blue Tit (Cyanistes caeruleus) 
Marsh Tit (Poecile palustris)
Chaffinch (Fringilla coelebs)

Our next stop was Sculthorpe Moor Community Nature Reserve near Fakenham. When I visited Sculthorpe last year it was pretty good - Brambling in large numbers, Bullfinches and a skulky Water Rail. This time however, we went straight to the Fen Hide as I remembered that it was the best of them all last time. Doing this proved to be a great shout because within minutes of sitting down and opening the shutters we had a Water Rail showing really well underneath the feeding tables. This just added to the plethora of other species present which included Marsh Tit, Bullfinch, Reed Bunting and Brambling!

Water Rail (Rallus aquaticus)
Bullfinch (Pyrrhula pyrrhula)
Bullfinch (Pyrrhula pyrrhula)
Greenfinch (Carduelis chloris)
Reed Bunting (Emberiza schoeniclus)
Brambling (Fringilla montifringilla)
We spent a good couple of hours in the hide before heading back to the car. On the way back we saw a few Mealy Redpolls, Lesser Redpolls, Siskin and Goldfinch flitting around a nyger seed feeder. As we were getting in the car, another birder shouted to us that there was a Barn Owl hunting the field. Obviously we leapt out of the car, cameras in hand and speed walked over to the birder and immediately spotted the Owl quartering over the field. Unfortunately it was a bit distant, but lovely to watch nonetheless!!

Barn Owl (Tyto alba)
After Sculthorpe we headed to our hotel in Old Hunstanton. On the way there we encountered a large gathering of birders in one of the lay-bys at Burnham, so we stopped to see what was going on. One kind birder told us that there was a Rough-legged Buzzard sat on the dunes in the distance and let us have a look through his scope. Although it was very distant, you could quite clearly make out why it was not just a Common Buzzard! The Buzzard flew off about 10 minutes later so we continued on to the hotel. Once back, we had a lovely meal and then went to bed, absolutely shattered but excited about what the next two days would bring.

As always, thanks for reading and I will endeavour to get the post about our second day in Norfolk finished and published soon!

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1 comment:

  1. Great photos Josie.Sculthorpe Moor where you saw the water rail, there is also a wood mouse who runs from the camera to the waters edge to feed and back. I was there the day after you and this was the first year we didnt see Marsh tits there! Shocked by the effects of the sea along the North coast of Norfolk.