On Sunday 25th October, we made our way over to Norfolk again for the second weekend running. Our target birds for this trip were the week long staying SIBERIAN STONECHAT at Caister on Sea plus any ROUGH-LEGGED BUZZARDS in the area and the recently arrived juvenile AMERICAN GOLDEN PLOVER at Breydon Water. For CJW, it was his second trip over to East Norfolk in three days. He had successfully seen the SIBERIAN STONECHAT on Friday, along with a nice sprinkling of other scarcities. But he agreed to come with us again as there was just nowhere else better to go. Credit to him, he didn't sulk or moan once all day, nor did he say the phrases "I've not had a single year tick all day", "I've been here before" or "On Friday, I ... " many times.
We headed straight for Caister-on-Sea on the East Norfolk coast, arriving at 08:00hrs. Just outside the village, CJW had expertly spotted two Cranes feeding in a field near Billockby. We walked through the dunes and were soon watching the male Siberian Stonechat showing rather closely on the fences surrounding the golf course. The only other bird of note was a fly over Snow Bunting.
Caister on Sea dunes with our new friend "Dog" playing with his ball. He was actually a guide dog on his morning off!
News was a little bit slow in coming through, so we headed up to Waxham where a SIBERIAN CHIFFCHAFF and DARTFORD WARBLER had been seen. We wandered around a bit, walked through the dunes but there wasn't a lot of birds or birders in the area. We felt that maybe we'd peaked already, and a lot of the previous days birds had departed. A decision was made and we headed down to Breydon Water to start looking for the juv AMERICAN GOLDEN PLOVER. We were virtually on the outskirts of Great Yarmouth when we received news that there were two GREAT GREY SHRIKES at Horsey. We'd only just driven past here. With negative news from Breydon, we handbrake turned in the carriageway and screamed our way back up to Horsey and the Nelson Head track.
It was now late morning and the sun was out. We were amazed at what we saw next. The track down to the dunes at Horsey was packed with walkers. I know I occasionally exaggerate on this blog, but it was so busy, if you stopped to look through your bins, someone would have bumped into the back of you. We had to step aside and stand on the edge of the path or end up being swept away on the tide of Sunday walkers.
We finally found a group of birders in the distance sitting on the dunes watching something, and with careful scanning, we found the Great Grey Shrike flying backwards and forwards in front of them. On the way back to the car, we stood and watched a ringtail Hen Harrier and Short-eared Owl duelling and sparring. It was all quite pleasant.
With no more news forthcoming, we headed up towards Leicestershire and our last stop of the day at Eyebrook. As we parked up, the moulting adult American Golden Plover had just been refound. Amazingly for CJW, it was his second American Golden Plover in three days, and even more amazinger, both were at Eyebrook, and both were moulting adults! What are the odds of that happening?
|American Golden Plover on the Leicestershire / Rutlandshire border|
And so to the final week of October. I'd resigned myself to not getting a tick in October this year, but we always hoped that the magic of Teachers Week and October 31st would work again. I've had three quite decent ticks on this date in the past, and we dared to dream the same would happen this year. But in the end, it became the first time I hadn't had a tick in either September or October. With only November left, could I finally be joining the "I've had no ticks this Autumn" club?
Both myself and CJW had been off all week, but we didn't manage a single trip out at all. We decided to go out year listing again on Saturday 31st October. We were both on 249 for the year, and so we headed off for the nearest year tick to Staffordshire. We headed to Rutland Water, where all five grebes had been reported. We parked up at Barnsdale overlooking the North Arm. The two Black-necked Grebes were spotted first, along with many GCG and LG. The Red-necked Grebe took longer and was more distant, but for over an hour the SLAVONIAN GREBE eluded us. None of the birders around us had seen it either except for one gentleman who had been watching it while we were stood there, close in to the shore......indeed.
And so thats 250 (BOU) up for the year and onto November.
(And in case you were wondering, the October 31st ticks were MASKED SHRIKE in 2004, AMERICAN BITTERN in 2010 and HERMIT THRUSH in 2013).