I received news of a Booted Warbler on Blakeney Point at 5.40pm just as i finished work and then deliberated if i had time to see it before darkness fell. I concluded yes, but only just. I jogged home a normal 35min walk done in 20min. A quick change and drive up to Cley and Laura and i were at the 'Coastguards' by 7pm. Leaving Laura in the car i (stupidly) jogged up the point getting to Halfway House in 25minutes and Yankie Ridge in about 40min. Along the way i had caught up with Gary and apparently ran past a Bluethroat! After all this effort i was horrified to find not a single birder at the Booted Warbler site, we worked the Suadea along the ridge but flushed very little, one promising warbler was briefly seen but couldn't be relocated in the fading light. After an hour of hunting the light was to bad so admitting defeat we started walking back. At Halfway House, I'm not sure what came over me, probably a combination of cold and guilt at leaving Laura in the car (now in the pitch black) but i jogged from here back to the car. Blakeney Point can be a wonderful place and turns up so many great birds, but this year I'm finding it a cruel place, of 4 trips i have returned empty handed on of 3 occasions. Little return for my invested efforts, but I'm sure I'll be doing it all again sometime soon.
Yesterday, after having a physio appointment in North Walsham, Laura and i had time for a short walk, between the rain showers. With a few Osprey drifting through i thought I'd check out East Ruston a site migrating Osprey have stopped at in the past. To cut a long story short, as the tag line says, there was no Osprey! But a nice Male Hobby perched up was a nice substitute. A couple of Migrant Hawker Dragonflies flew past despite the over cast weather and i found quite a lot of fungus emerging including what i think must be the largest mushroom i have ever seen, the cap was c40cm across and the stalk was as thick as my arm! James what was it? (I'll find the picture and post later)
With a day off work and the Lesser Grey Shrike that appeared yesterday still 'showing well' at Kelling it was a no brainer. After a brief lay-in Laura and i headed out to North Norfolk, we parked in Kelling village and walked down towards the water meadows. The pools are almost dry so no waders, but i did spot my first, belated Ruddy Darter of the year along with a probable Brown Hawker. Butterflies were also aplenty, with Wall, Small Tortoiseshell, Large White, Small White, Gatekeeper, Meadow Brown, Holly Blue and Common Blue all seen. We were directed up towards the radar station but the LG Shrike had moved, luckily the Lesser Grey Shrike was soon relocated on the barbed wire fence next to the 'Quags'. A new 'life tick' has I'd missed the birds at Hickling and Weybourne in recent years. We viewed the bird for a while, a stunning Male, although the stiff breeze made scoping a little awkward at times. Walking back along the track we saw a Emperor Moth caterpillar, the largest caterpillar I've ever seen! Driving back towards Sheringham we then viewed the Red Arrows displaying over Cromer, part of their carnival celebrations. Back in Norwich i was sitting in the garden when a Jay in the neighbours tree and an unlikely garden tick with a fly-over Common Tern. Then in the evening a Sparrowhawk flew over the house, to add another bird to my fledgling Garden List.
The NEW House Me and Laura have finally finished moving into our new house on Unthank Road in Norwich, it took 2/3 weeks to get things sorted but luckily no birds have really been about to miss. The feeders are up and have already been visited by a few birds. Blue Tit, Coal Tit, Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Chaffinch, Blackbird, Robin, Wood Pigeon, Collared Dove, Swift, Magpie and House Sparrow have so far been seen from the garden. Also 3 Migrant Hawker Dragonflies have been around, numerous Hoverflies, Large White, Peacock and Tortoiseshell Butterflies. A reasonable first 10days in the house.
Blakeney Point With the lull of the summer i was glad to get out again to look for some early returning migrants on Blakeney Point. We briefly watched the sea for 15 minutes, just long enough to pick up a few Gannet, 1 Great Skua, 2 Arctic Skua, 1 Manx Shearwater and a host of Sandwich Terns. Laura was feeling unwell so she napped in the car while i headed off alone into the suadea. Not far from the Coastguards i found a female Redstart which promptly few across the channel and out of sight. Whimbrel regularly flew though, 20+ in total. About 500m before Halfway House i met some other birders who had just seen an Icterine Warbler, a bit of stomping about and eventually i managed some brief views. Heading onwards to Halfway House, i spent far to long looking at a Dunnock, before going on to find 3 Whinchat, 2 Stonechat, 1 Reed Warbler, 1 Willow Warbler, 2/3 Yellow Wagtail, 5 Linnet and numerous Reed Bunting. Gary had called and he joined me where i had seen the Icterine Warbler, we spent awhile looking but without success. A female Wheatear was around and we spent ages trying to pin down a Locustella Warbler, that was probably a Grasshopper Warbler. Having left Laura a few hours in the car, i thought i would treat her to lunch in the Dun Cow, where we added Common Crane, 3 Spoonbill, Sedge Warbler, Sandwich Tern, Black Swan, Gadwall, and a 'heard' Whimbrel to 'The Pub List' bringing my 'Pub Total' to 100!
Tomorrow will be the final big push with the house move, so today Laura and i decided to relax and not shift boxes. We first headed for Holt, where we wandered around the shops for a bit. Shocked at the price of a Pork Pie in the town, we headed to the visitor centre at Cley for a bite to eat. On the way we drove around the back lanes of Salthouse without any sign of the Hooded Crow or any birders looking for it! From the Visitor Centre i could see 1 Gargany, 3 Marsh Harriers, 5+ Spoonbill and the Black Swan as well as numerous waders, while tucking into a lovely jacket potato. We decided not to walk the reserve but a scan of the Eye Field and surrounding area failed to turn up the Hooded Crow here either. Heading for Sheringham, again via Salthouse's back roads, we were lucky to find another birder who was watching the Hooded Crow, a 'Norfolk Tick' for me. An ice cream at Sheringham was well received, before calling in on my parents, and stopping at a garden centre to buy a new feeding station and feeders for the new house. As i write this news has broken of 4 (yes FOUR!) nesting pair of Spoonbill at Holkham, raising at least six young, these wonderful birds are a welcome addition to N Norfolk, a bird i never tire of seeing.
I recently moved back to North Walsham and needing a new local patch, I soon settled on a few of my old favourite sites, but they were spread around town. All are close to the old railways track beds and my new house sits at the apex of all 5 lines that once radiated out from North Walsham, these form the arteries joining everything up. My 'Birding Alone Old Lines' patch was born, revisiting the old birding sites of youth, via the Old Railway Newtworks.