North Norfolk - Part 2

Our host was very obliging in providing us with an early breakfast on Sunday so by 7:45 we were parked up overlooking Cley. Whilst we were getting our stuff out, a small flock of Pinkfeet called overhead. "Wouldn't it be funny if that..." John started again... There's a Ross' Goose! And so the day began as the previous had finished with more jam than a Devon Cream Tea.
Shocking image but it was pretty dark! Ross' Goose on the left if you hadn't already guessed.
So off we tramped down to the Avocet/Daukes Hide in amongst the reeds of Cley where we hoped to stumble upon a certain Western Sandpiper - the first target of the day. Again, there were hundred, nay, thousands of birds on the pools. Ruff, Blackwits, Avocets, Lapwings abounded alongside whistling Teal and flights of Brent Geese. Marsh Harriers were ubiquitous and Bill had a Water Rail five feet from him. Bearded Tits pinged around the reeds and we managed a good but distant look at some Water Pipits. However the target species was nowhere to be seen.
Dark-bellied Brent Geese were everywhere - no need to twitch Brockholes, Bill!
We decided to head down to Arnold's Marsh where the bird had been seen on other mornings. It has been a long time since I walked down the East Bank - not much has changed except there seems to be even more birds! The pool was teeming with Dunlin and a few Reshanks and Oystercatchers and the light was getting better as we studied the flocks. I'd stopped a bit earlier along the path in order to try and get the best balance of light and distance and after a few minutes scanning I noticed a smaller wader which then few to a sandy bank and started feeding in an odd manner. I called the others over as it scurried into the samphire and eventually we all had some good views of the Western Sandpiper. I now have the dubious distinction of having seen two Westerns, two Leasts but NO Semi-p's in Britain.

A Peregrine decided to take out a wader and consequently flushed all the birds off to Pat's pool to the delight of the encumbent population I guess. What they didn't see was a Bonxie as it circled over Arnold's before heading back out to sea!

Next stop was Salthouse and some lovely views of Snow Bunting, umpteen Red-throated Divers and a fly-by Slavonian Grebe. Oh, and a very nice cup of coffee from the man in the van.

A bit difficult to see on the shingle
Snow Buntings on seed behind the coffee van
Next stop, Wells pitch and put for a Black Brant. Well actually there were two and very obliging they were too. Not only that but a very nice Short-eared Owl hunted over the fields whilst we were watching.
Black Brant
Short-eared Owl
And so onto Holkham where we decided to give the potential Rough-legged Buzzards some time at the expense of the Shore Larks. We spent a couple of hours grilling the area from Lady Anne's Drive to the end of the pines but we drew our first blank, though Tundra Bean Goose, Greenland White-front alongside the throngs of European White-fronts and Pinkfeet were a welcome distraction. By the time we came across a pale-bellied Brent we'd chalked up 14 sub-species/species of goose depending on which list you follow.

The flock of Lapland Buntings wasn't playing ball either, having had a fly about five minutes before we got there so it was on to Titchwell for the last birding of the day and Bill's second lifer of the day - the Coues' Arctic Redpoll was hiding in the topmost branches of an alder when I found it but fortunately came down to give some splendid views, belatedly showing off its pristine white rump. I was shocked to see the, er, thing where the hides used to be. Flashy it may look but I'm not too sure about it being a good observation point for birds. Anyway, two Spotted Redshanks later and we indulged ourselves with a bit of sea-watching - distant Long-tailed Ducks and another Slav along with a host of shoreline waders and gulls brought the day to a pleasing end.

A splendid couple of days with plenty of banter and reminiscing. Thanks to John for doing all the driving. Looking forward to the next one!

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