Sunday, 24 November 2013

Clayheads face hefty bill following trip to Norfolk

This weekend, 23rd November, we decided to head out of Staffordshire again for a day out in Norfolk. The previous two weekends had been alright, and we hadn't left the county since the Cornish trip on the first weekend. On Saturday 9th, we saw the Great Northern Diver at Chasewater and then had an amazing sight of an immature Gannet flying over Branston GP's as we sat in the car waiting to go in. 

Great Northern Diver at Chasewater 9th November 2013

On Saturday 16th November, we went to Belvide and saw the two immature Long-tailed Ducks; the first time I've seen more than one together in Staffs. The rest of the day was spent at the pits, where we didn't see much at all.   
Long-tailed Duck at Belvide 16th November 2013

Our main target for our trip to Norfolk were the PARROT CROSSBILLS at Holt, a species we'd only previously seen in Scotland. There is something rather enigmatic and reminiscent about this species in Norfolk, probably due to hearing stories of the Wells 1984 birds in my YOC days. Unfortunately, CJW was unable to come due to work, but PJ accompanied us. The journey was fairly uneventful except for one roundabout in Norfolk where the exit had been altered due to roadworks and wasn't where I anticipated it to be. When you are reading a text, the barriers and cones came as a bit of a surprise to me! Fortunately, PJ had some spare pants in his bag as per usual. 

As we drove into the car park at Holt, the crowd were obviously standing watching the Parrot Crossbills close to the entrance. We just parked along the track and jumped out, managing our first views through a kind gentleman's scope. I returned to the car and parked it in the correct location and purchased a parking ticket. I then met Clayhead's No1 Stalker Ian who had just arrived - first time in a few weeks that he'd decided to stalk us. We caught up with his trials and tribulations during this hard, savage Autumn for birders. He told me about his trip over to Rhum on the Saturday when they missed the MOURNING DOVE. I had to take a seasickness tablet just listening to him. 

The Parrot Crossbills showed extremely well, feeding at the top of a conifer for about an hour. Their bills were enormous, and it was stunning to watch them rip off the fir cones and carry them in their beak to a better perch. Huge birds all round and a fine England tick for me.

Parrot Crossbills at Holt 23rd November 2013

Satisfied with a better than expected showing at Holt, we headed up to the coast and to Cley. First stop was at Salthouse where a flock of 39 Turnstones showed rather well. In fact, they were feeding around our feet.

The very showy Turnstones at Salthouse (above photo by Phil Jones)

Two Egyptian Geese on the way up to Salthouse (Phil Jones)

Following a quick visit to the centre at Cley to look at the books, we headed back to look at a flock of Brent Geese we had just driven past. Luckily we found a pull in and we were soon watching the local Black Brant

Black Brant (above photo by PJ)

We headed to Titchwell, which was rather quiet to be honest. It was also raining rather heavily but we were able to shelter in the hides there.  

I'm still getting 1000's of emails each week requesting music for my "End of Blog Music Slot". This week, Ian , who has just moved to Stoke has made a request. He writes " I love your end of blog music slot. Always a brilliant tune from the pop giants". Well, thanks Ian, and here is your all time favourite tune that you have requested.