The whole of this week I'm off work, and predictably the forecast hasn't looked good for birding in Norfolk. So last Sunday when Gary suggested a foray outside of Norfolk i jumped at the chance to see at least something decent this week. We headed for Kent hoping to see Wilson's Phalorope, White-rumped Sandpiper, Great White Egret and Ring-billed Gull. Leaving at 5am we were at Westcliffe-on-sea by 7ish, to look for 'Rossi' the returning Ring-billed Gull. I've looked for this bird on at least 5 previous occasions without luck, but today he sat on the beach only a few meters away. Our early visit no doubt the key, as no people were about to distract him with a bag of chips. News on the other birds had us first heading to Oare Marshes. Walking along the sea wall we soon located a large mixed flock of waders, Godwit, Curlew, Dunlin, Redshank, Greenshank, Golden Plover, and as we were advised 'somewhere' a White-rumped Sandpiper. We briefly picked up the bird in flight before we waited for the flock to shuffle around, finally the White-rumped Sandpiper moved into the open but only for a short while before burying itself once again. A juv. Curlew Sandpiper was also amongst the flock. Moving off we headed for Grove Ferry NNR, the Wilson's Phalorope had flown out of view and not been seen for over 1 1/2 hours, but we sat down to wait. The tall reeds masked many areas of the scrape and pools so the bird could have been under our noses, after 30min or so the distinctive bird flew in and fed on the back of the scape. Although a little distant a great bird to see. The Wilson's Phalorope was the 3rd North American bird of the day and with time on our side we headed to Dungeness hoping to add Great White Egret to the days list. The wind was blowing strongly across the reserve, if the GWE was there it was anchored down well out of view, so after a quick flit around the reserve, we headed home. Lots of Chiffchaff were on the reserve, holding on until the last minute to leave and a Hobby was also of note.
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.