It was too good to contemplate missing so as soon as news broke of a Citril Finch in Norfolk I made plans for a day out to see it. The day came, but I could not afford to wait on news and so had to set off at the absurd time of half 5 for my first train.
My spirits were lifted when news came through that it was still present that morning and I relaxed a bit more. I even got a yeartick from the train when a Grey Partridge flushed from one of the fields. Things were looking up.
It was so refreshing to be back on the coast hopper bus traveling through some lovely villages, in reasonably nice weather. As we drove through the countryside we passed more Grey Partridges as well as some Red Legged Partridges too. And the first birds I saw when I got off the bus? Grey Partridges. For a species which I do not see very much I was fair racking up the numbers today, and over the course of the day they became the real highlight, which says a lot about how wrong the twitching went...
Thats the first time I have ever photographed Grey Partridge so I was pretty thrilled about that. I then set off marching through the woodland to try and get to the finch site. Along the way I picked up a few bits and pieces, such as Red Kite which was flying over and a few spring Migrants singing from the bushes, as well as a pair of Egyptian Geese on the fields.
Sadly the finch was not where it had been yesterday and had not been seen since the morning when it had been flushed. I was gutted but reckoned it would be back. Sadly, wherever it went, it did not think the same and despite 5 hours waiting it did not return making it my most significant and only real dip to date.
It was very disappointing, and there were not many other birds around to ease the pain either. A nightingale was giving brief and fleeting outbursts of song from a thicket just over the dunes but it never showed. I waited a little while for a chance and caught it in flight briefly as it dived from one part of the dunes to another but certainly not tick-able views unfortunately. A Spotted Flycatcher made an appearance which caused a stir among the assembled throng, the majority going over to wonder what the raised bins and pointed fingers meant, only to find out that it was a Spotted Flycatcher. Still, a yeartick though and something to show for the day.
The birding highlight from the wait was a nice Hobby that drifted over mid-afternoon. I actually ran to get a photo of it, but I need not have worried as it came back over about 10 mins later having caught something which it was now feeding on before flying back over towards me. Another yeartick in the bag!
I was joined by none other that Mick Turton and Andy Roadhouse who had made the trip down from Spurn and we settled down for the shift. They helped make it less of a blow that the bird was not playing ball as it was nice to see them again after not yet making it back to Spurn in 2015.
As the afternoon wore on into the evening the hundred or so twitchers dwindled to a last 7, when we agreed to withdraw together. I decided to walk back through the dunes to Burnham Overy and hopefully pick up a few bits along the coast where the others went back through the plantation to see if they could find the finch. Judging from the lack of news, they failed.
The dunes were quiet with only a Wheatear and a few Linnets and Meadow Pipits to show for it. However, once I reached the saltmarsh things got a bit better and I racked up a few more yearticks. The first was Brent Goose. There was a small flock feeding on the saltmarsh. I dunno, but I reckon that there are Pale Bellied and Dark Bellied in this mob, the bird on the far left being a Dark Bellied.
-Pale Bellied and Dark Bellied Brent Geese
Next were more of the real birds on they day when another Grey Partridge came and landed in the tall grass next to the path. I could see it moving so positioned myself where I would be able to see it cross an area where the grass was more flattened so I could get a proper shot of it, but it did not like my moving and it flew off over the dyke and into the adjacent field, followed by 2 more that I did not know where there at all. Once in the field it kept its head up for a short while before vanishing.
The tide was out and there was not an abundance of waders, but there was good variety. There were 2 Grey Plovers in summer plumage, a single Black-Tailed Godwit and a single Dunlin as well as Oystercatchers and Redshanks.
I had almost finished my walk and entered the village when I heard an all too familiar call. I turned to see 2 Little Terns flying around the harbor. One landed on a sandbank a little far away but the other kept on flying and flew straight past me as well as doing a little fishing too. I would have loved to have stayed longer but I did not know the bus times and as it happened I arrived at the bus stop 4 mins before the bus was due-could not have timed it any better even if I tried.
And that was that. Were it not for the lack of finch and the price attached it would have been a fantastic day, but it was still a lovely day out birding in a lovely area of coastline with reasonable weather and I really enjoyed it despite the obvious. Beats lectures any day!
It even continued on the train back as I spotted no less that 4 Barn Owls hunting over fields next to the train line at various points. A superb day out that's for certain!
Train Journey: Grey Partridge, Common Buzzard, Pheasant, Swallow, Mallard, Woodpigeon, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Feral Pigeon, Collard Dove, Rook, Starling, Coot, Magpie, Carrion Crow, Tufted Duck, Mute Swan, Shelduck, Yellowhammer, Black-Headed Gull, Blackbird, Lesser Black-Backed Gull, Kestrel, House Sparrow, Shoveler, Cormorant, Stock Dove, Jackdaw, Cuckoo, Lapwing, Jay, Barn Owl,
Holkham Pines: Grey Partridge, Red Kite, Common Buzzard, Tufted Duck, Chiffchaff, Egyptian Goose, Swift, Spotted Flycatcher, Long-Tailed Tit, Jay, Hobby, Kestrel, Coal Tit, Chaffinch, Robin, Blue Tit, Cormorant, Herring Gull, Black-Headed Gull, Woodpigeon, Dunnock, Mallard, Graylag Goose, Mute Swan, Shelduck, Swallow, House Martin, Red-Legged Partridge, Jackdaw, Carrion Crow,
Burnham Overy Dunes: Linnet, Meadow Pipit, Wheatear, Tufted Duck, Mallard, Gadwall, Graylag Goose, Little Egret, Redshank, Grey Plover, Dunlin, Lapwing, Oystercatcher, Common Tern, Little Tern, Brent Goose, Grey Partridge, Moorhen, Black-Tailed Godwit, Shelduck, Pheasant, Swallow, Swift, House Martin, Skylark, Cormorant, Herring Gull, Black-Headed Gull,