And then there’s my car. My Peugeot is an electrical engineering feat of ineptitude. The lightbulbs can’t be reached, the electric pump for the screen washer reservoir can’t be got at easily; you basically have to dismantle the car to be left with it. The car had actually been in a 'good' garage the day before to have a new pump fitted which is why I know how hard it is to sort. And when the battery goes flat, the lights still work. In my case and just as my brother had carted all of his stuff from his car to mine it waited until we were ready for weekend of blistering birding to say fuck you. My brother is a hero. He wasn’t expecting to have to drive all over North Norfolk with me pointing at all the pubs we could go to when the weather turns but he did and he was awesome (rarely do I use that word but for once, it’s appropriate).
Although not much in the way of rarities were being seen in Norfolk, the whole deal of birding for the weekend made the atmosphere electric (moan). We decided to hit Cley first as bad weather was due around 2pm and our plan was to be at Sheringham to sea watch while sheltering in the er well, shelters. (Actually, the technical name for these shelters is Turnstone meeting booths.)
We got to Cley-next-the-sea in good time. The sky was still a vague light blue colour and the wind was barely noticeable. So it was nice that Bearded Tits were our first proper bird of the day and there were loads pinging all over the place like bullets ricocheting around a bell factory.
|Ant’s a sharp eyed birder and a good driver and even a bit of an electrician|
The wind direction meant not much was happening. Juv. Gannets passed one way, I think east but it’s not a strong memory. Brent Geese went right and Cormorants just got in your face. So we gave up.
We trudged over what the last tidal surge offered up along this coast and which had damaged much of the reserves hard work. Thankfully, the desire to protect birds and give people like me and my bro a place to enjoy birds has shone through and this commitment to nature is winning the day although much still needs to be done.
|just look out and not up.|
|Curlew preparing for the worst.|
|Golden Plover brightens up the dullest of days|
|Holst’s Planets 'Mars' should be playing right now.|
|Totally out of my price bracket and actually, out of keeping for Cley.|
We lunched at the Dun Cow which is the done thing and the food and beer were top class. By now, the rain was clearly on its way and we headed to Sheringham.
Then we stopped because the rain didn’t start. We parked up at Salthouse and wandered up Gramborough Hill. Surprise surprise, not much here but then who would have thought to go to Burnham Norton?
Sheringham is Sheringham. I won’t diss it because Diss it isn’t. It probably great with the right wind direction and with people who know what they’re looking at/doing. We had more Gannets and Brent Geese and entertainment was supplied by the local speed walkers in the shape of Turnstone who clearly wanted feeding and would venture up as close as our tripod legs in their vain search.
|Probably faster than Usain Bolt over 10 yards.|
|If only the inside was like the outside.|
|If in doubt, call a qualified electrician.|
But we had beer and we have wine so we survived. We also had a good pub for dinner. I had been to the Red Lion in Stiffkey with Ed, an old work friend last year and it was ideal.
|The Red Lion at Stiffkey ****|
|Cockles to share before the pate, fish, venison and rib eye steak.|
Early the next morning would prove to be a watershed or at least a garage or bike shed or whatever.
Now, I would like comments to this because at 4am the following morning, I was awakened by a Tawny Owl call outside my bedroom window. I was either awake or it awoke me, I don’t remember. But I got up and opened the window and watched and listened as first one then two and then three owls started calling. The one I believed to be in the tree closest to me change it’s twit twoo call to a screech and I thought, 'should I wake my brother, a brother that had driven all day and might not take too kindly to being woken to hear a bloody owl call. I also felt if I left my post, it might go and I would wake him to hear nothing. Dilemma. Anyway the awkward decision was made for me as the owl then flew out of the tree over the garage roof and was lit up for a 2 second period. Oh shit. i had Tawny Owl to the (my) list.
|The trail to Gun Hill|
Jays, Dunnocks, Song Thrushes and a host of other small birds flicked through the bramble bushes and rose hip. We headed towards a pool where we caught up with the long-staying Black-necked Grebe and then were directed to a Wall Brown butterfly giving every cameraman a runaround but I got it eventually as well as a punctured hand when I steadied myself by putting said hand down on dried out thistle heads. Not good.
Overhead, skeins of Pink-footed geese came in waves, a wonderful sight and sound.
The beach was amazing. As this was bang next door to Holkham, it was not surprise but how these beaches are so under used is beyond me but good from a wildlife POV.
The walk back produced Wheatear, Stonechat and a pair of Common Buzzards all found by Ant. Okay, I should have woken him, I know now.
We then drove to Titchwell, bypassing Burnham Norton which probably by then had a Steppe Grey Shrike on many birders lips and lists, a first for Norfolk. But we didm”t know this because internet is a phrase used only by lobster and crab fishermen around here.
Titchwell would prove to be the most giving in terms of bird species though so in hindsight, we or at least I don’t care. Two Little Stint was the star and Snipe were everywhere. Bearded Tit, Chiffchaff and a a neat female Pintail (Ant again) made for a great trip.